New wheels for Anchorage’s Meals on Wheels

Walmart Foundation grant helps feed hungry seniors.

by Jenni Ragland –

Marty Howard (right) manager of Dimond Walmart presents van keys to Major Nila Fankhauser (Social Services secretary) and Cheryl Howdyshell, executive director, The Salvaton Army Older Alaskans Program. [Photo by Jenni Ragland]

The Salvation Army recently purchased a new van for its Older Alaskans Meals on Wheels program—thanks to $15,000 awarded through a Walmart Foundation grant to the Meals On Wheels Association of America (MOWAA). Local Walmart manager, Marty Howard, helped deliver meals as the van made its maiden voyage in Anchorage on Thursday, March 25.

“Thanks to the Walmart Foundation Impact Grant, we now have better tools to keep feeding seniors for years to come,” said Cheryl Howdyshell, director of The Salvation Army Older Alaskans Program. The grant will help the program by providing reliable transportation to deliver meals to seniors in Anchorage. With an aging fleet of vehicles (several with more than 100,000 miles) and the maintenance required to keep them safely on the road, there was an increased risk that on any day there would be a shortage of vehicles to deliver meals, potentially impacting up to 100 seniors.

This financial support is desperately needed as many Meals on Wheels programs across the country are seeing an increase in requests for services during this economic downturn. In 2009 more than 131,000 meals were prepared and delivered to frail seniors throughout Anchorage, a 25 percent increase from 2008. At the current rate of growth we anticipate serving approximately 145,000 meals this year.

“Seniors have been hit especially hard in this economy and we feel a responsibility to help,” said Margaret McKenna, president of the Walmart Foundation. “We’re proud to support Meals on Wheels programs across the U.S. who work on the front lines of ending senior hunger.”

“The Walmart Foundation has once again stepped up to the plate as a powerful partner in the fight to end senior hunger,” said Enid Borden, president and CEO of MOWAA. “They are our largest corporate partner to date and their support will make a tremendous impact in helping our programs sustain meal services well into the future. We can’t thank the Walmart Foundation enough for joining us in our national movement to end senior hunger in America by 2020.”

Late last year MOWAA released a groundbreaking study revealing six million seniors in America face the risk of hunger. The report, entitled, “Senior Hunger in the United States: Differences across States and Rural and Urban Areas” was sponsored by MOWAA and shows that the number of seniors facing the hunger risk jumped an astonishing 20 percent in just one year. The Walmart Impact Grant Program is intended to help combat the problem of senior hunger.

The Salvation Army Older Alaskans Program has been providing in-home support services for seniors in the Municipality of Anchorage since 1965. These services include home delivered meals (better known as Meals on Wheels), assisted transportation, and homemaker services to individuals in their homes that assist them in living as independently as possible. A hot noon meal is available in congregate settings for those individuals who are more mobile and able to attend.

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