Feb 5, 2021
Valentine’s Day is an interesting holiday. For children, it is a fun day to bring cute cards and treats to friends at school. For young lovers, it can be a day to celebrate romance. For many of us, it’s a day to find a silly card in the mail or a surprise package on your doorstep from a friend or family member.
For the past 47 years, Valentine’s Day on the North Shore has been a time to support our senior community. For four decades, the Gloucester House Restaurant in downtown Gloucester has opened its doors at Valentine’s Day and welcomed diners for a special Breakfast Buffet in the name of Meals on Wheels—the daily home delivered lunch program run by SeniorCare. This breakfast has become a community tradition, supported by dozens of sponsor organizations, students from Gloucester High School ROTC program, and individual community members.
SeniorCare currently delivers Meals on Wheels to more than 760 elders each day. Annually, this exceeds 180,000 home-delivered meals. In addition, thousands of meals are served at community “Grab & Go” contact-free sites throughout the North Shore. These numbers reflect a 35% increase in nutrition services since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.
Meals on Wheels began in the United Kingdom during the World War II “Blitz.” As the number of homeless people grew due to bombing, the Women’s Volunteer Service for Civil Defense began preparing and delivering meals—sometimes using old baby carriages to transport the food. This idea was adapted after the war to help elderly people who were having difficulties preparing their own food.
The first home-delivered meal program in the United States began in January 1954 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Since then, Meals on Wheels has grown to be a nationwide program, feeding approximately 2.4 million elders annually.
According to the Greater Boston Food Bank, one in eleven people in Eastern Massachusetts do not know where their next meal will come from. Hunger issues disproportionately affect people age 60 and over as one in five of this age group experience food insecurity.
Researchers who study senior hunger say the causes are complex and compounded. Many seniors can no longer drive due to safety concerns or they can no longer afford the expense of owning a vehicle. Rides on public transportation may be difficult due to illness, disability, and dementia. These illnesses alone can deprive a person of the ability to feed themselves.
Meals on Wheels is not just a nutrition program. In addition to lunch, the Meals on Wheels driver brings companionship and a watchful eye on the health and safety of our seniors. Some lunch recipients tell us that their driver is the only person they see on most days.
As mentioned earlier, the Gloucester House Restaurant has hosted a fund-raiser breakfast buffet to benefit Meals on Wheels for the past 46 years. One hundred percent of the proceeds from these amazing community breakfasts has been used to support Meals on Wheels. The generosity and kindness of the Linquata family is not lost on us. We are grateful for this long standing tradition and we give much thanks to the Linquata Family and their restaurant staff. Due to social distancing requirements, we are not able to have the breakfast in 2021. We look forward to the 47th breakfast in 2022!
For more information on SeniorCare’s nutrition programs—including how to volunteer to help or how to get assistance for an elder in your life—contact SeniorCare at 978-281-1750.
However you spend your Valentine’s Day, we wish you health, happiness and love in your everyday life.