Launching Partnership This World Oral Health Day Spotlights the Oral Health of Older Adults
SAN FRANCISCO – The Delta Dental Community Care Foundation and Meals on Wheels San Francisco today announced a partnership to improve the oral health of the Bay Area’s most vulnerable seniors. Meals on Wheels received a grant of $500,000 in support of its operations and to begin planning for future work.
March 20 marked World Oral Health Day, a global campaign that encourages people to “unite to help reduce the burden of oral diseases.” Seniors face unique oral health challenges but are a group that is unfortunately overlooked. Getting older should not mean that one has to live with oral health issues or tooth loss.
“Improving the oral health of older adults is a priority for the Delta Dental Community Care Foundation,” said Kenzie Ferguson, vice president for Foundation and corporate social responsibility at Delta Dental of California. “Meals on Wheels of San Francisco is an incredible organization who can help us understand the challenges this group faces and work directly with vulnerable seniors to provide education, resources and services.”
Meals on Wheels already provides special diets for clients with challenges chewing or swallowing, making them a natural partner to work on issues related to vulnerable older adults and oral health. The Delta Dental Community Care Foundation aims to find ways to understand the oral care challenges older adults face and works with partners on solutions to address and remove those barriers.
“We are grateful to receive this grant and we applaud Delta Dental for stepping up during a time of crisis for our vulnerable population of seniors living in the City,” said Ashley McCumber, CEO and Executive Director of Meals on Wheels San Francisco. “Our partnership will allow us to provide education and other resources to our clients, helping them be more proactive about taking care of their oral health.”
Proper nutrition is essential to oral and overall health, and there are specific relationships between oral health and food insecurity that make this partnership especially relevant. Food insecurity is linked to an increased risk of dental caries, which causes tooth decay. On the other end of the spectrum, missing teeth or other conditions that create pain in the mouth and jaw make eating difficult and affect the ability to receive proper nutrition.
March is March for Meals month – a time where local Meals on Wheels programs across the country recognize the re-authorization of the Older Americans Act in 1972 which paved the way for funding of senior nutrition programs. The programs, including San Francisco’s, invite local, state and federal officials to deliver meals to the homes of seniors and at the same time, raise awareness about food insecurity issues older adults face daily.
Due to concerns with COVID-19, other activities have been added, including sending cards to seniors, making phone calls, and conducting Zoom meetings with local and state officials. As part of its partnership with Meals on Wheels San Francisco, Delta Dental has provided 4000 dental kits to Meals on Wheels clients, and employees have created and sent roughly 1000 thinking of you cards.
About Meals on Wheels San Francisco
In 2020, Meals on Wheels San Francisco (MOWSF) celebrated 50 years of providing older adults residing in the City with what they need to live independent and dignified lives – nutritious meals, professional social work services including daily wellness checks, and a friendly visitor. MOWSF can deliver two meals daily to homebound senior clients, something no other program does in San Francisco. In 2020, staff and volunteers delivered more than 2.3 million meals to 5,200 seniors and adults with disabilities. Learn how you can get involved at www.MOWSF.org.