Monday, December 11, 2006

No Wheels For Meals

This story about the difficulties of the Meals On Wheels program serves as an example of stupidity in policy making:

Meals on Wheels, which has delivered food to the elderly and disabled since 1954, is experiencing shortages of volunteer drivers and about four of 10 programs have waiting lists of needy clients.

The rapidly growing population of Americans age 85 and older is increasing the need for nutrition programs and high gasoline prices make it harder to recruit volunteers, says Peggy Ingraham of the Meals on Wheels Association of America.

Houston's largest Meals on Wheels provider has 700 people on its waiting list who can wait six months or more before they can get food, says David Roberts, director of senior nutrition at Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston, which runs the program.

"It's just a hard job some days," Roberts says. His program delivers meals to 3,200 with paid drivers because volunteers are scarce.

Why stupidity? Because programs such as Meals on Wheels are much, much cheaper than institutionalizing the elderly, and often all that is really needed to avoid or delay the institutionalization is that someone looks in once a day and brings a warm meal or two. And of course people prefer their own homes to nursing homes.

So due to the want of a few dollars we are going to see the nursing home expenses skyrocket. Where's all that money that was spent for abstinence education, by the way? Perhaps some of those abstinent teens could be talked into delivering meals instead.