Suburban Meals on Wheels programs put seniors on waitlists as demand rises, donations drop

Chicago News

DuPAGE COUNTY — For nearly 70 years, a knock at the door has been a lifesaver for seniors across the country who rely on food delivered by Meals on Wheels.

Among them is 93-year-old Ruth Riley, who says she looked forward to the meals every day for the last four years.

“I know they were very good meals,” Riley said.

But recently Ruth and about 300 other seniors in Dupage County were told the same thing: they would no longer receive meals because there wasn’t enough funding. Around 175 seniors in Kane County have been put on a waitlist as well.

The head of the DuPage Senior Citizens Council, Marilyn Krolak says while demand for the program is up 40% during the pandemic, the second stimulus bill didn’t include dollars for the program and private donations are down too.

Krolak said 99% of the people they serve rely on the meals because they’re below the poverty line. Making matters even worse, funding they’re supposed to be getting is months behind as well.

“It’s just ridiculous to put any senior on a waiting list during this serious pandemic that we are going through,” Krolak said.

Ruth is one of the lucky ones, since she has a niece who can help. But she is also climbing out of a bad 2020 job market, leaving them with no choice but to adjust.

“I’m not the best cook either… I’m trying,” her niece Rosie Riley said.

The DuPage Senior Citizens Council is also accepting donations on their website.

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