Photo by U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Katrina Heikkinen, via Wikimedia Commons
This stock photo shows a Thanksgiving delivery to a Meals on Wheels recipient.
On Saturday, July 16, Senior Services Plus (SSP) will hold its seventh annual fundraiser concert, Feed the Need, a benefit concert to support Meals on Wheels.
SSP’s mission is to stop senior hunger in its tracks. According to Meals on Wheels of America, more than 6 million seniors in America are facing the threat of hunger each day; that is 1 in 5 seniors in our very own community. SSP is the largest provider of Meals on Wheels in Southern Illinois. This program has grown over the past year to more than 450 meals daily to homebound seniors in 22 townships throughout Madison and St. Clair counties. Over the past nine years, SSP’s Meals on Wheels program has provided more than 1,000,000 meals feeding approximately 6,000 homebound seniors.
SSP’s “Meals on Wheels” program is only partially funded through Older Americans Act funds and relies on the Feed The Need concert as our main fundraiser. The past year has been incredibly difficult for SSP, and of all of the SSP programs that have suffered the cuts to the Meals On Wheels program serving homebound seniors have been the most disgraceful. In April 2015, a waiting list for Meals On Wheels was enacted due to reductions as a result of the budget impasse; for our agency alone, this resulted in 140 seniors waiting for 12 months for meals. The waiting list was lifted in April 2016, and out of 140 seniors on the list only 64 came off and began getting meals because 21 went into nursing homes, 24 no longer required services (reasons unknown) and 9 seniors died. Nine seniors in our communities, who at the end of their life, could not get a meal that provides 33 percent of their daily nutrition and provided support for their families. We don’t see this situation changing until a state budget is agreed on, which could be next year.
Senior Services Plus is asking for your support for this year’s event; we have been incredibly fortunate to be able to present Rodney Atkins and Jana Kramer and regional favorite the Harmans. The cost of a ticket to the concert is $40, which is the equivalent to 10 days of meal donations. Tickets can be purchased online at Metro Tix; at Senior Services Plus, 2603 N. Rodgers; or at the CVB Center in Alton. Come support a program that keeps seniors aging in place; if you are unable to attend buy a ticket (or two) and give it to a neighbor or individual who can’t afford to go. We at Senior Services Plus appreciate the community’s support and the many volunteers we have that make our programs happen every day.
Jonathan Becker is executive director of Senior Services Plus