According to recent figures, around 5 million seniors suffer from food insecurity on a daily basis. To help with this, Meals on Wheels is a program designed for seniors that deliver much-needed meal assistance right to their door. For Arkansans wondering who qualifies and how to get Meals on Wheels in Arkansas, the Arkansas Association of Area Agencies on Aging has resources available online to get this invaluable service started.
What are Meals on Wheels?
Meals on Wheels in Arkansas serves millions of seniors annually through their programs to help alleviate the food insecurity seniors in Arkansas regularly face. Meals on Wheels delivers home-delivered meals to senior citizens and others who are unable to shop for or prepare meals for themselves. All meals are nutritious and curated by a registered dietitian to meet one-third of nutrition guidelines
Benefits of Meals on Wheels
Seniors are at a much greater risk for malnutrition because of the disproportionate number who do not have the ability to access healthy food – 16% of the seniors in Arkansas. Unfortunately, even with access to healthy food, it may not be possible for them to prepare meals due to limited mobility. This lack of nutrients can cause new and worsening health issues, which could cause slow healing and even hospitalization. Using a valuable service like Meals on Wheels will give them time and energy to devote to other things in their lives.
Meals on Wheels for seniors provides face-to-face contact with someone up to five days a week when their food is delivered by a volunteer, in addition to the obvious benefit of improved and sustained health. Homebound people, particularly the elderly, frequently experience isolation and its negative consequences. Brown University found that the benefits seniors received from the contact itself helped prevent depression, falls, and even hospitalizations, in some cases. This added benefit is especially needed for those who may live alone or at a distance from their close friends and family.
Who Qualifies for Meals on Wheels?
It's a common misconception that only low-income people are eligible for Meals on Wheels. Meals on Wheels receives about 39% of its funding from federal programs like the Older American Act Nutrition Program, with the rest coming from private and public sector organizations, and donations. Because of their funding, Meals on Wheels can provide its services, feeding the elderly on a need-based financial sliding scale.
Eligibility requirements for Meals on Wheels home delivery can vary depending on where you live and the program you go through. However, these are general requirements that usually require applicants be 60 or older, unable to leave home, unable to prepare meals, and not have anyone in the home who can provide a meal for them.
If applicants are able to attend a local senior center or food pantry, they may be eligible for congregate meals. Check with your local senior center or food pantry for guidelines.
How to Get Meals on Wheels in Arkansas
How to get Meals on Wheels in Arkansas depends on the area of the state in which you live. The Meals on Wheels program is implemented using your local chapter of the Arkansas Association of Area Agencies on Aging. Find your Meals on Wheels locations below:
Region I: Northwest Arkansas (BAXTER, BENTON, BOONE, CARROLL, MADISON, MARION, NEWTON, SEARCY, AND WASHINGTON COUNTIES)
Region II: White River (CLEBURNE, FULTON, INDEPENDENCE, IZARD, JACKSON, SHARP, STONE, VAN BUREN, WHITE, AND WOODRUFF COUNTIES)
Region III: East Arkansas (RANDOLPH, LAWRENCE, CLAY, GREENE, CRAIGHEAD, MISSISSIPPI, POINSETT, CROSS, CRITTENDEN, ST. FRANCIS, LEE, AND PHILLIPS COUNTIES)
Region IV: Southeast Arkansas (ARKANSAS, ASHLEY, BRADLEY, CHICOT, CLEVELAND, DALLAS, DESHA, DREW, GRANT, JEFFERSON, AND LINCOLN COUNTIES)
Region V: Central Arkansas (FAULKNER, LONOKE, MONROE, PRAIRIE, PULASKI, AND SALINE COUNTIES)
Region VI: West Central Arkansas (CLARK, CONWAY, GARLAND, HOT SPRINGS, JOHNSON, MONTGOMERY, PERRY, PIKE, POPE, AND YELL COUNTIES)
Region VII: Southwest Arkansas (COLUMBIA, CALHOUN, DALLAS, HEMPSTEAD, HOWARD, LAFAYETTE, LITTLE RIVER, MILLER, NEVADA, OUACHITA, SEVIER, AND UNION COUNTIES)
Region VIII: West Arkansas (FRANKLIN, LOGAN, POLK, SCOTT, SEBASTIAN, AND CRAWFORD COUNTIES)
Important Next Steps
After you get connected with your Area Agency on Aging via phone, email, or in-person visit, their Information and Assistance team will schedule an initial assessment. Some information or items that may be helpful during the assessment to determine the scope of care or other areas of need may include
- Dietary restrictions (e.g., food allergies and/or diabetes)
- Emergency contacts
- Current medical issues (including chronic)
- Prescription list
- Adaptive equipment used (e.g., Walker, lift chair, etc…)
- Primary care physician contact information
- Secondary or specialist physician contact information
- Health insurance information
- A general timeline of any hospitalizations
For More Information
The Arkansas Association of Area Agencies on Aging's mission is to help Arkansas's aging population live better, more independent lives. If you or someone you know is a homebound person in need of home care services, transportation, Meals on Wheels, or another form of assistance related to the effects of aging, contact us today!
For more information about the Arkansas Association of Area Agencies on Aging’s mission of connecting seniors and their families and/or caregivers with resources, like Meals on Wheels, to keep the seniors of Arkansas leading a better life, visit our website, or call us, toll-free, at (866)-292-7165.