Poverty
3:49 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

NC Senior Population Will Double Over Next 10 Years: Senior Hunger is Also Expected to Increase

The senior population is growing at a high rate across the country and in the Tar Heel State.

By the year 2030, the number of adults age 65 and over in North Carolina is expected to double while the number of younger residents will increase only modestly.

Volunteers with Meals on Wheels in Forsyth County deliver more than 1,200 lunches each work day to homebound seniors.
Credit by Roger Wollstadt roger4336 via flickr

That’s because beginning in 2006, one baby boomer turns 60 every eight seconds. And that trend is expected to continue over the next 10 years. Another reason for the growing senior population is that people are  living longer than ever before in history.

But many health experts and community groups are concerned about meeting the needs of elderly residents in the state.

According to a report from the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger, one out of seven seniors is threatened by hunger. The report says the threat of hunger for seniors increased in 44 states since 2007, including North Carolina.

Richard Gottlieb is President and CEO of Senior Services Incorporated in Winston-Salem. He says the Meals on Wheels program helps provide nutritious meals, cost savings and even companionship for some seniors.

Gottlieb says the majority of people who receive Meals on Wheels are typically on a fixed income, many below the poverty level, and for some of them, even the meal they get is not enough.

“For some, they are saving part of their Noon meal that we provide for supper or for breakfast the next day. It’s really important to get them as much food as we can, and Meals on Wheels is one way we can do that,” says Gottlieb.

Gottlieb says Meals on Wheels provides 1,243 meals each work day to seniors in Forsyth County. The program relies on volunteers to deliver the meals and donations from community members, faith-based organizations and businesses.

“One of our challenges at the moment is that the Meals on Wheels program has been hit by the sequestration or budget cuts in Washington. Over the last five months $36,000 that we would have gotten to help support this program has been cut and that is going to continue in the coming months. That just doesn't make sense, because it costs so much less to keep older adults in their homes than it does for nursing homes or hospital stays,” says Gottlieb.

On Friday, October 18, the non-profit organization will celebrate a major milestone: delivery of the 5-millionth Meals on Wheels lunch to a Forsyth County Senior. Golf legend and Wake Forest University alum Arnold Palmer will make the special delivery.

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