Who Are the Recipients of Meals-on-Wheels in New York City? A Profile of Based on a Representative Sample of Meals-on-Wheels Recipients, Part II

By Frongillo, Edward A.; Cantor, Marjorie H. et al. | Care Management Journals, July 1, 2010 | Go to article overview

Who Are the Recipients of Meals-on-Wheels in New York City? A Profile of Based on a Representative Sample of Meals-on-Wheels Recipients, Part II


Frongillo, Edward A., Cantor, Marjorie H., MacMillan, Thalia, Issacman, Tanushree D., Sherrow, Rachel, Henry, Megan, Wethington, Elaine, Pillemer, Karl, Care Management Journals


Anumber of questions were asked of the recipients of the Meals-on-Wheels program in New York City to ascertain their food preparation methods and their nutrition so that we could better understand the context in which they were receiving the Meals-on-Wheels foods. Included were questions about ownership of food preparation facilities; their comfort with using these facilities; their consumption of fruit, vegetables, and milk per day; the number of non-Meals-on-Wheels meals they consume; and whether they shopped for and prepared non Meals-on-Wheels foods themselves or with assistance from others. Furthermore, recipients were asked to describe their financial situation as it related to food. Recipients' nutrition and ability to prepare food can be described through their use of the meals, use of non-Mealson- Wheels food, and their food insecurity.

FACILITIES FOR FOOD PREPARATION

Since delivery times are variable, recipients may choose to eat the delivered meals at a later time, making possession of some facilities for food preparation necessary. Virtually all recipients have a refrigerator, a freezer, and an oven, while fewer recipients have microwaves and toaster ovens (Table 1). More recipients feel comfortable using a microwave or a toaster oven than an oven. While 93.3% of the recipients feel comfortable using a microwave and 93.8% feel comfortable using a toaster oven, only 68.8% feel comfortable using an oven.

SOURCE, TYPE, AND PREPARATION OF FOODS

A majority of the recipients in the Meals-on-Wheels program supplement their diet with non-Meals-on-Wheels food, but 13.6% are reliant solely on the food provided by the program (Table 2). At times, non-Meals-on-Wheels foods are bought and prepared by someone other than the recipient. Of those who do consume non- Meals-on-Wheels food, 66.2% prepare it themselves, 12% have relatives prepare it, and 11.3% have home attendants prepare the meal. In terms of shopping for non-Meals-on-Wheels foods, 35.8% shop themselves, 28.1% have relatives who shop, and 19.6% have home attendants (Table 3).

Recipients were asked about their fruit, vegetable, and milk consumption per day. Although most tend to consume fruit, vegetables, and milk at least once per day, a large portion of the recipients do not (Table 4). Approximately one-fifth (20.2%) eat fruit, 15% eat vegetables, and 13.8% drink milk less than one time per day.

Whites (17.2%) were somewhat less likely to not eat fruit than Blacks (24.2%) or Hispanics (27.8%) (p < .018). Hispanics (36.1%) were more likely to not eat vegetables than Whites (12.3%) or Blacks (12.7) (p < .001). Blacks (17.6%) were slightly more likely to not drink milk than Whites (12.7%) or Hispanics (11.1%) (p < 0.085).

FOOD INSECURITY

Food insecurity is a concept that refers to the social and economic problem of lack of food due to resource, physical, or other constraints, not voluntary fasting or dieting or for other reasons. Food insecurity is experienced when there is uncertainty about future food availability and access, insufficiency in the amount and kind of food required for a healthy lifestyle, and/or the need to use socially unacceptable ways to acquire food. Food insecurity can also be experienced when food is available and accessible but cannot be utilized because of physical or other constraints such as limited physical functioning by elders. Some closely linked consequences of uncertainty, insufficiency, and social unacceptability are assumed to be part of the experience of food insecurity. These may include worry and anxiety, feelings of alienation and deprivation, distress, adverse changes in family and social interactions, and hunger. We assessed food insecurity using three questions and also asked about their financial situation.

About one-fifth (18.2%) of the recipients are unable to afford the right kinds of foods for their health, while 11% are unable to afford enough food. Almost 4% describe themselves as hungry because they cannot afford food (Table 5). …

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