Social Movement

Nnonprofit organizations play a crucial role in bridging the social, economic, and political gaps that exist in society by focusing resources and providing goods and services to the community without regard to the profits. In the United States, nonprofits organization are formed by filling the Articles of Association and the relevant bylaws. This paper will take a closer look at the Meals on Wheels Tampa nonprofit organization, the problems that had led to its formationm and the social, economic, and political factors that contributed to the origin and development of the issue. 

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The Meals on Wheels Tampa

The Meals on Wheels Tampa is nonprofit organization committed to ensuring that the senior citizens are independent and treated with dignity and respect in their homes. This charitable organization provides fresh and nutritious meals and daily visits to the aging people living in Tampa, Florida. The nonprofit was founded by Gloria Fuentes, a resident of Tampa, who had difficulties tending to two of her family members living in the different streets. At the time, many of the older people had difficulty with having nutritious meals in the comfort of their homes. Furthermore, most of these seniors suffered from malnutrition, social isolation, food insecurity, and poor mental wellbeing. Thus, the organization was formed mainly to offer body and soul nourishment to the seniors who needed to remain independent and secure in their homes.

The Meals on Wheels nonprofit organization started in 1975, with a group of volunteers cooking and delivering food to homebound seniors from a local church’s recreational hall. After 17 years of operation, the nonprofit acquired administrative offices and a kitchen at 550 W. Hillsborough Avenue. To date, the organization provides over 700 meals to home-based seniors in Tampa. The charitable organization mission is to nourish and enrich the independent lives of seniors and homebound citizens. The quality of food renders nourishment to the aging people’s body, while the encouraging words of the volunteers make the nourishment of the soul. The nonprofit has 10 administrative staffs, who oversee the smooth operation of the organization, with Steven King as the executive director. The organization relies on donor sources to feed the seniors and homebound citizens. The charitable organization boast of numerous partners, such as St. Mary Episcopal and Humane Society of Tampa Bay, who assist the organization in achieving its mission of providing body and soul nourishment to the seniors. 

Specific Problems

The formation of the organization took place when seniors and homebound citizens were suffering from malnutrition, food insecurity, social isolation, and poor mental wellbeing. Thus, one in every six adults in Tampa Bay faced acute food insecurity. Most parts of Tampa Bay lay in the food desert where much of the population languished in abject poverty. In addition, the area had few grocery stores, which made it difficult for people to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables. Research statistics indicated that more than 700,000 out of the 4.5 million people in the food desert area faced hunger throughout the year. The food situation in the area was widespread, with many people missing their daily meals. Consequently, most of the seniors suffered from malnutrition because of lack of balanced diet. Coupled with the fact that homebound people could not work for a living, starvation became particular a problem for those who did not have cars to travel long distances to buy the required food supplements. 

In addition, most of the seniors suffered from social isolation as they were perceived as liabilities by their families who also experienced economic hardships such as unemployment. As the result of increased food insecurity, malnutrition, and social isolation, most of the seniors suffered from poor mental wellbeing. Therefore, the need to provide food to the seniors was the primary goal that prompted the formation of the nonprofit to save the seniors who were on the brink of death. Furthermore, the need to improve the health of the seniors was critical for the formation of the organization that aimed to address the cases of patients with malnutrition issues. Finally, the need to provide soul nourishment also necessitated the creation of the nonprofit to promote a sense of belonging to those seniors who suffered from societal rejection due to their inability to participate in money generating activities. 

Social Factors

Several social factors contributed to the origin and the development of food insecurity, malnutrition, and isolation among the seniors. For example, the inability of wheelchair-bound seniors to manage their regular activities independently limited the extent, to which they could participate in income generating activities that would cover their food expenses. As a result, it resulted in food insecurity and malnourishment. Isolation from close relatives engaged in their activities played a part in the growth of problems of food insecurity, poor mental wellbeing, and social isolation among many seniors. The limited sources of income restricted many adults’ ability to contribute to the wellbeing of their elderly relatives since they had to feed families of their own. 

Given the fact that the area is poorly developed, as it occurs in the food desert, obtaining enough money for the families and their old parents proved to be a potentially strenuous exercise for many people, resulting in the growth of the problem. Moreover, loneliness was another contributing factor to the problem, in that most of the seniors did not have companions, which aggravated it and led to social isolation and poor mental wellbeing. In addition, the loss of spouses in the old ehnanced the problem in the sense that they could not participate in meaningful conversations and interactions. Financial stress arising from the loss of regular income contributed to the problem of food insecurity among the seniors as they did not have other forms of regular income. Consequently, they could not afford to buy essential food. Finally, frustrations arising from the ongoing medical conditions led to the problem as well as it was both time and money consuming. 

Economic Factors

Several economic factors contributed to the origin and growth of food insecurity and malnutrition among the the senior citizens of Tampa Bay. First, the Tampa region was a sparsely populated area at the time. Consequently, the number of economic activities was limited across the region. In addition, fewer factories and business were likely to include the old generation into the employee pool. Thus, only active and young citizens were in demand by the job market. As a result, the old generation suffered from lack of funds to cover their needs. Therefore, the effects of lack of employment opportunities and reduced income only enahnced food insecurity among the seniors and homebound. Secondly, the Tampa region was a food desert, where people needed to move for a long distance to obtain fresh vegetables or fruits. Consequently, moving from one place to another was expensive, especially if one did not own a vehicle. 

Therefore, the inaccessibility of the area and reduced mobility of the homebound and seniors led to the increasing levels of food insecurity and resulted in food malnutrition among this part of population. In addition, the consequences of retirement by the seniors resulted in food insecurity and hunger as most of them did not have retirement packages to cover their expenses. Finally, lack of social security benefits for older adults added to the growth of the problem as the local government did not offer special benefits to the older and homebound people. Presently, social security benefits form the largest source of income for the old people, especially those who do not have a regular form of employment. The availability of social benefits would have reduced the utility and healthcare costs, leaving a considerable amount of money available food expenditure, hence ensuring that old people had enough food. Therefore, lack of social benefits led to the problem of food insecurity.

Political Factors

Finally, numerous political factors also led to the development of food insecurity among the seniors in Tampa Bay. For instance, lack of legislation to grant the old people access to social security benefits played a part in the above-mentioned issue. Social security benefits would have been important because they would have assisted the elderly and those who could not participate in active employment in meeting their food and housing expenses. Secondly, reduced employment due to the global recession of 1969-1970 made its contribution as well because most of the seniors did not have regular jobs that would have enabled them to have outright retirement benefits. Consequently, many of the elderly people had to participate in casual labor to earn a livelihood, thereby missing the essential retirement benefits accorded to the state and national governments.

Thirdly, lack of healthcare programs to enhance the health of the seniors was a deteriorating factor in the issue since lack of affordable care and high healthcare costs led the old people to diverting most of the earnings to healthcare. Lack of legislation to ensure that all individuals saved money for their welfare also brought about the development of the problem of food insecurity as people did not have contributory schemes for use in their lives after retirement. Consequently, most people would spend much of their salary without any concern about their lives in the future. Lastly, unfavorable legislation restricting the growth of nonprofits promoted the problem since many of such organizations played a significant role in filling the gaps that resulted from economic and political factors. Therefore, proper legislation allowing nonprofits a considerable amount of funds from the national government would have lowered the adverse effects of this issue. Furthermore, the availability of adequate funding would have reduced the economic gap, allowing many seniors to have access to affordable and nutritious meals. 

Conclusion

Nonprofits play a significant role in bridging the economic gaps that exist in society. Meals on Wheels Tampa was formed with the primary intent of providing the seniors and homebound citizens with nutritious and affordable meals. Most of them suffered from the problem of food insecurity, malnutrition, and social isolation at the time, which necessitated the formation of the charitable organization to take care of the old people. Several social, economic, and political factors contributed to the origin and growth of the problem in Tampa. For instance, financial stress and loneliness, as social factors, led to the emergence and development of the problem of food insecurity. On the other hand, lack of income and social security benefits supported the advancement of the issue among the seniors in Tampa. Lastly, political factors, such as lack of political willingness to grant seniors compulsory social security benefits, weak economic growth, and unfavorable political climate for the nonprofits, promoted the food insecurity problem among the older people in Tampa region. Therefore, the charitable organization Meals on Wheels Tampa continues to transform the region for the better.

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