HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - By Mark Carpenter
Every morning Bob Boesch wakes up at his Liliha residence and bikes down to volunteer with the Lanakila Meals on Wheels program.
However, Boesch is doing more than just preparing meals, instead, he represents a pivotal step in Hawaii's fight against senior hunger.
According to Meals on Wheels Association of America President and CEO Enid Borden, six million seniors in the country face the epidemic of senior hunger and are at risk of not getting proper nutrition.
Here in the islands, over 5% of Hawai'i's elderly are battling hunger every day.
"It's an enormous problem that nobody even talks about," said Borden, who has been with the organization for 21 years. "I think it's about time that we stop sweeping it under the rug and started talking about this fact that people are hungry in this country."
By delivering an average of 1,200 meals a day all over the island , the Lanakila Meals on Wheels program, which has been in existence since 1971, is one of the organizations being proactive about the lack of food for the elderly.
However, Lenny Fabro, operations manager of Lanakila Meals on Wheels, believes there is still a lot of work to do.
"There's a lot more seniors that really need the help and a lot of them don't know that they need the help," said Fabro. "The big question out there that we ask is, 'How many more out there can we feed?'"
One of the limiting factors surrounding Lanakila Meals on Wheels' service is a lack of resources, particularly manpower.
According to Fabro, high gas prices and a tough economy limit the number of volunteers and even with 300 service workers like Boesch, the organization is always looking for help with driving, delivering and packaging.
To increase the amount of help and decrease the number of seniors going hungry every day, the Meals on Wheels program plans to target a younger set of volunteers.
"I need to recruit the next generation. Young people to get involved in this issue of hunger," Borden said.
"I need young people to say that this is a cause worth fighting for and we can all do it together."
Although Meals on Wheels addresses the hunger issue facing seniors all over the country, Borden feels the service provides something much more fulfilling and beneficial.
"We deliver friendship and we deliver some companionship," said Borden.
For information on how to volunteer and get involved, call Lanakila Meals on Wheels at 531-0555.
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