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IL organization seeks extra hands to serve older adults

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Monday, July 8, 2024   

Isolation and a lack of regular nutritious meals are circumstances many older adults find themselves in. One organization is working to remedy this - and could use some help.

The Illinois Department of Public Health says the state's 60 plus population has increased from almost 2 million, to 3 million since the year 2000 - and now makes up more than one in five Illinois residents.

Community Nutrition Network Outreach Manager Geno Cisneros said he wants older adults to have reliable access to healthy food.

He said the organization could use more Meals on Wheels volunteers, with time and availability to help deliver food.

"The growing need for seniors and providing nutritious meals, and just for essential needs as a whole - it grows every day, especially with our senior demographic," said Cisneros. "And so, there's always a constant need for more clients who need our services - and not just provide a meal, but also provide that social touch that they need, since they are isolated or homebound."

The organization delivers to suburban Cook, Grundy, Kendall and Will counties.

The health department estimates by 2030, Illinois residents age 60 or over could reach 4 million and represent 25% of the state's population.

The network also has a "Friendship Line." Volunteers call homebound clients weekly to inquire about how they are doing, meal delivery times, and if the food quality is up to standards.

Cisneros said older adults are the most underserved, but asserts they are still very much a part of the state's economy.

"With their experience and with their direction, we want to be able to just provide the services that we can to them," said Cisneros. "But also learn from them, so that we continue to grow our economy and to grow our lives and ourselves."

Illinois ranks 39th in the country for older adults who are at risk for social isolation, according to the health department.

Volunteers must pass a background check, and training is provided for food handlers and deliverers.

The registration process also requires having a valid ID and passing a background check, and volunteers must commit to two hours a week of their time.



Disclosure: Community Nutrition Network and Senior Services Association contributes to our fund for reporting on Community Issues and Volunteering, Health Issues, Hunger/Food/Nutrition, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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