by Cecilia Hernandez-Cromwell. This video originally aired on Telemundo Oklahoma. The Spanish-language video embedded below includes English subtitles. A full English transcript is included below.
To be independent is something very important for human beings from the moment we begin to walk until we age. Fortunately there are organizations that help people stay longer in the place they call home.
At noon on a recent cold day in Oklahoma City, José de Loera Ruiz was on his way to have lunch with his friend Jerónimo Cazazos, who says, “For seven years friends like him have come to visit me.”
For approximately four years, José has been delivering lunch for Meals on Wheels to people who are homebound because they are ill, disabled or elderly. He explains, “If you are able to help you will realize that you make a big difference in people’s lives.”
Meals on Wheels says that 10 million Americans go struggle with hunger each year. And the root of that problem comes with financial difficulty.
That is why Meals on Wheels, based in Norman, Oklahoma, provides and delivers food made by nutritionists, who design them according to the special dietary needs of each person. These meals are available at a low cost or for free depending on their financial status.
In a 2018 client survey, Meals on Wheels discovered that over 90 percent of the meal recipients report improved emotional and physical health, as well as feeling safer living alone.
Jerónimo is a man in his 80’s who loves cracking jokes and having company around. In the time we spent with him, he always had a smile on his face. He could not stop laughing, and loved talking about his favorite foods.
“I’ll eat anything except a whole cow,” he joked.
Jerónimo noted, “I eat as long as somebody brings me food.”
José said, “Meals on Wheels isn’t just a food delivery service. They also help develop friendships between the volunteers and their clients. When someone comes to deliver food, they sit and talk with me. They soon begin to talk about their children and later open their hearts to me.”
Thanks to meals on wheels 95 percent of meal recipients can continue living in their homes independently even when they have diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Also the visits help reduce the chance that they will fall and the worry they feel at the moment of having to leave their home.
Bernadette Martínez of the Oklahoma City nonprofit Encargarda de la Puerta Oro (“Gold Door”), stated, “I always tell people to never go hungry because we will find a way to make sure they have something to eat.”
It is important to keep in mind that nobody should ever go hungry or feel abandoned, especially when they are in their later years, because there are nonprofits that are ready and willing to offer food, company and services.
For more information, visit the website www.mealsonwheelsamerica.org. Local chapters can help potential clients see if they are eligible. In Norman, call (405) 321- 7272. In Oklahoma City call La Puerta de Oro (The Gold Door), (405) 235-4243. Residents of Edmond can contact Mobile Meals, (405) 341- 3111. People interested in volunteering from once a week to every day can learn more at the Facebook page, Meals on Wheels of Norman, Inc.
Cecilia Hernandez-Cromwell produced and wrote this story for Telemundo Oklahoma City, where she serves as News Director and Anchor, with the support of a journalism fellowship from the Gerontological Society of America, Journalists Network on Generations and the John A. Hartford Foundation.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Diverse Elders Coalition.