Local town leadership threw their support behind Coastline for Older Americans Month, helping deliver meals to older adults in Marion, Fairhaven and Dartmouth. Like Coastline’s regular drivers, they greeted adults on their route by name and handed meals to recipients with a hello and friendly conversation.
After being given her meal by Marion Select Board members Randy Parker and Toby Burr, Marion nonagenarian Marian Treichler, a retired teacher, chatted with the men about the well-being of several town residents and the shops and businesses they operate. Nonagenarian Gabe Ditata also used the delivery opportunity to discuss local issues with the two selectmen, including the motor vehicle traffic near his home.
Both enjoyed the visits and the chance to share and receive local news.
Meals on Wheels is a core Coastline program that supports older adults in living independently by providing nutritious weekday meals and well-being checks. In 2022, Coastline delivered 434,000 meals in seven South Coast communities.
In the past decade, the number of meals Coastline serves has increased 56 percent even as food costs grew by 53 percent. In contrast, federal funding decreased by 2 percent over the same 10-year period from 2013 to 2023. Increases in state funding, while helpful, cover a smaller percentage of program costs and therefore do not make up the financial difference.
Despite the gap, Coastline has made the decision to seek alternative program funding, including fundraising, in order to meet the demand for every older adult who needs meals. Meals are delivered free to recipients with a request for a $2 per meal donation. While some recipients can afford this donation, most cannot.
“Coastline remains committed to serving meals to those who need them, especially those who are unable to leave their home without difficulty,” said Justin Lees, CEO. “We continue to work with the South Coast legislative delegation and other opportunities to improve funding support for this important program.”
“This is such a great program to ensure our seniors get nutritional meals with a safety check in,” said Murphy. “As a Select Board member and president of M.O. Life, I applaud the continuous great work that Coastline is doing.”
Murphy praised program drivers for the relationships they create with recipients and the safety checks they make as part of their deliveries. Drivers are not allowed to leave meals on doorsteps or at neighbors’ homes and must give them directly to the individual recipient for that reason.
“Even that two minutes of saying hello means, ‘Ok, they’ve come to the door, they’re ok,’” Murphy said about that moment of contact.
May is Older Americans Month, a time to celebrate the achievements and gifts of older Americans. This year’s theme is Aging Unbound, a topic designed to encourage increased flexibility in thinking about aging and about the benefits when older adults remain engaged, independent, and included, according to the federal Administration for Community Living.
To find out more or to request meal delivery, call Coastline at 508-999-6400.