Anne Arundel County has awarded a $50,000 emergency grant to Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland to help the growing needs of homebound seniors strapped by rising prices.
The additional funds, announced Monday, will provide regular meals for 40 additional clients. Terry A. Lehr, program supervisor in the county, said many of the 217 current recipients will also receive more need-based aid.
Meals on Wheels clients, who are mentally or physically unable to shop or prepare their own food, receive two meals a day and are charged on a sliding scale based on their dispensable income.
Higher energy costs and an overall rise in the cost of living have prompted more seniors living on fixed incomes to apply for federal Title III food subsidy funds, which allows them to receive the meals at little to no cost.
Rising fuel costs are also increasing the price of the nutritional foods that the program provides and deterring volunteer drivers and monetary donations, Lehr said.
"We are seeing seniors with less and less of a disposable income," she said.
The new grant money will also allow Meals on Wheels to offer more subsidies for Emergency Kits, which provide two to three days worth of nonperishable meals.
"It is especially important that we at the county level can facilitate distribution of dry goods and nonperishable food items before the hurricane season is fully upon us," County Executive John R. Leopold said. "In this way, we can guarantee provisions to our senior population without risking harm to our wonderful Meals on Wheels volunteers."
Meal and Wheels, which works in partnership with the Department of Aging and Disabilities, has three service centers in the county: the Pascal Senior Center in Glen Burnie, Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church in Severna Park and St. Martin's Lutheran Church in Annapolis. In the past fiscal year, 98,877 meals were delivered to 421 clients in Anne Arundel County.