Economy strains Meals on Wheels

With one in eight South Carolinians struggling to get enough food to eat, one stalwart community institution, Meals on Wheels, is looking at a growing waiting list — and the prospect of serving fewer meals in the coming year.

"The whole thing is like a domino event," said Deborah L. Bower, executive director of Senior Resources Inc., which oversees Meals on Wheels and eight other programs in Richland County aimed at keeping elderly in their homes.

Funding for programs that supply a hot lunch to the homebound elderly is under siege as the larger state and federal economies falter. About 400 meals are delivered daily in the Richland County area, with another 400 delivered in Lexington County.

As the larger economy falters, corporations and organizations that donate to the programs are under stress. And the volunteers who deliver the meals also might be experiencing difficulties, she said.

"We have fewer volunteers because they don't have as much expendable incomes as they had,” Bower said. "They use their own vehicles, they pay for their own gas; they have to cut pennies where they can."

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