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Meals on Wheels warns of risk of elderly malnourishment

Meals on Wheels warns of risk of elderly malnourishment

SAN ANTONIO – Meals on Wheels is warning of the risk of elderly people being malnourished or going hungry.

The nonprofit cooks up about 4,000 meals a day but knows with one in six seniors at risk of going hungry, there are many more people who need the help.

"Some of the elderly people that I deliver to don't have family to be there for them,” says Meals on Wheels driver Lucinda Medina. "They need to make sure they're getting their meat, their vegetables, their milk.”

She’s on a tight schedule, with a route full of seniors waiting for lunch, and sometimes the next day’s breakfast, to be delivered.

"Oh I like the food very much,” says Simon Garcia, one of her regular clients. “Especially the milk."

Like a lot of people Meals on Wheels serves, he doesn’t get out much anymore.

"They used to be active in church. Suddenly you look around the church: 'I wonder what happened to Ms. Smith who used to sit in that pew over there,’” explains the agency’s CEO Vinsen Faris. “You drive down the street: 'Oh, gee, I haven't seen Mr. Rodriguez picking up the leaves in the yard.' And we forget about them. Because they're inside."

He and his team alerted us to an alarming trend: one study found 39% of hospitalized seniors are malnourished.

"Medications are all geared to work with food intake,” Faris says. “If they're not eating right, that medication may be do something entirely different to that individual's body."

He says unintentional weight loss - losing weight without trying - is also a big concern that’s kept in mind when planning the meals delivered all over the city every day.

"An apple and milk,” Garcia says with a smile.

"I know that I'm helping them and I know that they're getting the nutrition and the food that they need,” Medina says as she heads to the next home on her route.

If you know a senior that could use some extra help, call Meals on Wheels during business hours at (210) 735-5115.

By EMILY BAUCUM

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