Joey, 58, has relied on Meals on Wheels Chicago (MOWC) for healthy meals for more than 15 months. As a person with disabilities, Joey is in a particularly vulnerable group that often faces hunger in the United States, making his regularly delivered meals essential to his health and well-being.
“It has helped me to have meals on a daily basis. I don’t have to cook a whole meal if I choose not to,” Joey says. “It helps me save time and helps nutrition wise with the vegetables…it helps me to eat healthier. Because I am a diabetic, that helps me in my daily life to keep my A1C down and just keep me healthy and keep me around. “
Those with disabilities may face issues accessing or navigating grocery stores, and studies show those with disabilities are more likely to experience higher rates of poverty and hunger than individuals without disabilities.
The USDA reports that households with working-age members with disabilities also face more severe food insecurity—around one-third of all food-insecure households live with very low food security, where at least one resident who goes without enough to eat. More than half of households with disabilities, one the other hand, face that same very low level of food security, a hurdle that is hard to overcome.
Joey was connected to Meals on Wheels Chicago through the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, where city officials help enroll clients with MOWC as well as connect them with other social services throughout the city.
As a person who is blind as well as at risk for serious COVID-19 complications due to diabetes, Joey has found even more benefits from having his meals delivered through Meals on Wheels Chicago.
“[Meals on Wheels Chicago] is a great help for people who are disabled or seniors, because it helps with this pandemic that’s been going on for the past year,” Joey says. “It definitely has helped, because getting out to get your own food can be difficult at times, especially for someone like myself, so I really appreciate all the people who donate, and I just want to say thanks to them.”
As food insecurity among households with disabilities increases—up 20 percent since 2010—services like Meals on Wheels Chicago have become even more vital. Health, nutrition and food security are essential to living a fulfilling life, and for Joey, the fact that the meals are not just delivered, but also nutritious, is significant to his overall quality of life.
“The main thing I like is the fresh fruits and vegetables and that’s very important to me,” Joey says. “I may not get that nutrition if I didn’t have Meals on Wheels Chicago.”
By Anne Bouleanu, Freelance Journalist and MOWC Contributor