HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The March for Meals drew hundreds of Hawaii seniors to the State Capitol to lobby lawmakers for funding for Kupuna care.
"It's important they know the message that we need help" said Harry Maxwell, a Meals on Wheels volunteer, who knows what it's like to be on the receiving end. He added, "I suffered from a stroke 3 years ago. They've been there to help provide nutrition and companionship. Holidays are very lonesome for kupuna and Meals On Wheels provide more than just meals, they provide heart."
The non-profit serves 2-thousand meals a week, 200-thousand a year, to 1200 seniors around Oahu. Services also cover other pressing home care needs, from chores, to transportation.
Lanakila Meals on Wheels Director Lyn Moku said at the rally, "Surely we can take care of our kupuna that so desperately need these services to maintain their independence and health."
Governor Neil Abercrombie surprised the seniors by coming out of his office to personally offer his reassurance.
"How are you?" asked the Governor to two sign waving seniors in wheelchairs. Then he added, "Don't worry, we're pushing for you.
The Governor's budget request to the Legislature nearly doubles funds for Kupuna Care from 4.85 to 9 million dollars. He explained why, saying "We're not just trying to make up for cuts in the past, but we want to make certain that we have a good basic foundation of dollars for the necessary services. Meals on Wheels is an excellent example."
Funding hasn't increased since 2002, while Hawaii's senior population has grown 30-percent in that same time period.
Meals on Wheels Director Lyn Moku says it's a smart investment in our Seniors, that makes economic sense for the State. In her words, "In long term care situation, that would be much more costly than providing the services we do now."
A few hours after the rally, the Governor announced the release of $280,000 in grants for Lanakila Pacific for Meals on Wheels.
That money will be put to good use making repairs to operations and improving the kitchen with equipment to address health and safety concerns.