Home-Bound Oakland Seniors Facing Crisis

June 17, 2015 – Sudden and significant growth in the number of Oakland seniors needing meals on wheels is putting these frail home-bound seniors’ lives at risk.

Oakland’s meals on wheels program is provided by SOS Meals On Wheels. SOS is a nonprofit that has been providing meals on wheels services in the county for 49 years, and in July 2014 began providing full service meals on wheels for Oakland seniors under contract with the Alameda County Area Agency on Aging. The contract funds a set number of meals, and the reimbursement does not cover the full cost of the service. Like all meals on wheels providers, SOS makes up the gap by maximizing the use of volunteers, by requesting a per-meal donation from recipients, and through fundraising.

However, the number of Oakland seniors requesting and qualifying for meals on wheels has grown significantly in the last nine months. SOS’s case load has grown from 650 to 1200. SOS cannot address this huge increase alone; even county augmentation funding falls short of addressing the crisis. Seniors in need are being waitlisted.

Concerned CBOs have asked the City to provide funding to mitigate this emergency. Oakland City Council has responded to advocate’s requests with a $50,000 one-time-only allocation in their proposed budget. The City hasn’t funded senior serving CBOs since it eliminated its Senior Set-aside grant program in 2009. The allocation is a step in the right direction, but the city needs to do more.

What you can do: People who care about Oakland seniors have an opportunity to voice their support for more funding. Attend the City Council Budget Hearing on Monday June 22 at 5:00pm at Oakland City Hall, 1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza and speak during public comment.

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