The numbers are staggering.
Senior hunger affects an average of one in every nine seniors in America, although those statistics vary from region to region.
So, how many senior citizens face food insecurity in our region?
Seniors in the South are three times more likely to be food-insecure, according to a study commissioned by Meals on Wheels Association of America, and Texas is fourth in the nation, ranking only behind Arkansas, Mississippi and South Carolina as the four states experiencing the greatest prevalence of food insecurity in the nation.
To combat this problem, Meals on Wheels of Texoma serves approximately 379,000 meals every year to seniors throughout Cooke, Fannin and Grayson counties, with 330,000 meals delivered and approximately 50,000 meals served at SNAP Centers in Texoma.
Volunteers are the heart of this program.
More than 500 volunteers regularly donate their own time and gas to ensure seniors will have a friendly face at the door with a warm, nutritious meal. Meals on Wheels of Texoma believes it is a conservative estimate that it would cost more than $440,000 if paid workers delivered all meals.
To honor the volunteers who make certain that area seniors have a delicious meal delivered to their door, local elected officials participate in Mayors for Meals Day once a year. Initiated by the Meals on Wheels Association of America, the Mayors for Meals event seeks to raise awareness of senior hunger and to encourage action on the part of the local community.
"I think Mayors for Meals is important because it gives credit to the volunteers who do this every day," said Bonham Mayor Roy Floyd. "These are the people who make it possible for senior citizens, not only to have a warm, nutritious meal, but also a friendly face at the door and someone to converse with. I appreciate the volunteers who make this program work."
Fannin County Judge Spanky Carter was also out delivering meals to seniors for the Mayors for Meals event March 20.
"Being county judge, you get to serve on a lot of different boards and this [Meals on Wheels of Texoma] is certainly a favorite of mine," remarked Judge Carter. "
"We are lucky to get to do this," Carter said as he delivered a meal. "It is a privilege for me to get to talk with these people and to serve our seniors."
To learn more about the vital role of Meals on Wheels of Texoma, make a donation or volunteer to deliver the next meal, please visit www.MealsOnWheelsTexoma.org.
Talk to family members, co-workers or Sunday school class about the possibility of volunteering on a rotating basis. As the number of senior citizens in our communities continues to rise, volunteers will continue to be our single most valuable resource.