BENTON COUNTY, AR-- According to the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger, about one third of all Arkansans aged 60 or older are are going hungry. That's more than 160-thousand people. Arkansas ranks number one in the nation for senior hunger and one organization in Benton County is participating in the Meals On Wheels initiative to combat that fact.
Each day, Meals On Wheels driver, David Caldwell delivers food to senior shut-ins across Benton County.
"The idea that knowing that I'm doing something good for them is the primary focus," Caldwell said.
For folks like Iris Shockley, access to a nutritious meal means the world.
"This shoulder is deteriorating and arthritis, and it's hard to cook. You hate to just eat cold cereal all the time and order something... so it's been a lifesaver to people like me," Shockley said.
Susan Moore with the Office of Human Concern said the Benton County Senior Center serves more than 66-thousand nutritious meals per year.
Moore said, "Just like a restaurant we have a commercial kitchen, a professional chef in our kitchen that serves or prepares the meals. They put together meals with protein, vegetables, fruit, starch."
Once the meals are sealed in the kitchen, they are loaded on to the truck and delivered to senior homes.
"It is very important to them... not just the food, but seeing that driver come and having an opportunity to visit with them. When you walk in and they smile at you and you kind of build a little relationship with them," Moore said.
Shockley said she looks forward to seeing the drivers each day.
"Everybody goes to work or school and you can't find anybody to help you during the day so it really helps when they come in and break up your day and help you," Shockley said.
A meal, a smile, and a heartfelt conversation... Meals On Wheels workers are making a difference in the lives of seniors who need the extra help.
"It makes you feel good that you're doing something, doing it for somebody else," Caldwell said.
The Meals On Wheels Association of America is a national coalition to fight senior hunger. For more information on the program, visit http://www.mowaa.org/.
The Meals On Wheels program in Benton County runs primarily on donations. To make a donation or volunteer for the Meals On Wheels program in Benton County, you can call the Benton County Senior Center at 479-273-7348.