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Rural Caregiver

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National Meals On Wheels
Rolls Out Into Rural Areas
By Hilary Gibson, Staff Writer
(Page 2 of 2)

With all of the obvious food problems existing for the rural elderly, why then donít some of the federally funded programs like food stamps help with keeping them from going hungry? According to one economic report, the decline of food stamp use in rural areas is really because of the difficulty found in accessing food stamps and the establishments at which they can be redeemed, not because of a decrease in the need for them, so the issue of accessibility and transportation is a reoccurring theme in the inability to keep the rural elderly from going hungry. Also, poverty and unemployment rates are higher and earnings are lower in rural America than in metropolitan areas, with the rural elderly more likely to be poorer than the urban elderly, so they have far less savings left for the necessary things of life, such as food. There are roughly 200 counties in the United States considered to be extremely poor, with 189 of the 200 poverty-stricken counties found in rural areas. These poor, rural areas are concentrated mostly in the South, Appalachia, the Ozarks, Mississippi Delta, Rio Grande Valley and on Native American reservations in the Southwest and Northern Plains.

Whether youíre a family caregiver close by or far away, your loved one may be eligible for Meals on Wheels if they:

  • their own meals

  • have great difficulty utilizing kitchen appliances and equipment

  • donít have the proper skills to do so

  • have no motivation to prepare a meal, due to the loss of a spouse or depression

  • donít have anyone in close proximity that may be able to cook his or her meals

  • donít have adequate cooking facilities, live alone and have become homebound  during the winter months

  • are recuperating from surgery or a serious illness

For most of us, the thought of people going hungry conjures up images of urban projects or third-world countries. Itís inconceivable that people in farming communities donít have enough to eat, especially since there are acres and acres of fertile ground yielding an amazing abundance and variety of healthy food, which feeds this country and the rest of the world. With 1 in 10 rural households dealing with hunger as an issue every day, Meals on Wheels has their work cut out for them, trying to overcome other rural challenges that contribute to hunger, such as isolation, with neighbors being too far away and unavailable to assist the elderly, and communication problems like rural elderly who canít afford a telephone.  

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