Meals on Wheels West brings food to senior citizens, people with disabilities and other needy residents in and around Santa Monica, delivering 80,000-plus meals last year alone.
“We serve people of all ages and incomes,” executive director Chris Baca said. “We have clients who live in high-rises on Ocean Avenue and people who live in mobile homes and singles in the Pico neighborhood. It’s a wide range of needs and a diverse population.”
Baca is proud of the work that his organization does, but he’s quick to acknowledge that it can’t provide nourishment and perform wellness checks without help.
Some of that help comes in the form of volunteers donated more than 22,000 hours, combined, for program services in the fiscal year ending mid-2014, according to a recent audit of the locally based nonprofit group.
And some of that help comes from money gathered through fundraising efforts, like Meals on Wheels West’s upcoming Monster Bash. The Halloween-themed fundraiser, one of the organization’s biggest sources of income each year, is slated for 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29, at the Loews hotel in Santa Monica.
“The need for our services has significantly increased, and we have to raise money to do what we do,” Baca said. “It’s very much a party, but it has a serious cause behind it.”
Organizers are hoping to attract 200-plus attendees to the event, which will feature food stations, cocktails and champagne, as well as a costume contest, casino-style games, music and a silent auction.
Tickets cost $100 per person.
All attendees will be entered into prize drawings. Previous winners have received airline tickets as well as hotel stays in San Francisco, San Diego and Tucson, Ariz.
The fundraiser, which was previously organized as a “Havana Night,” will feature a Halloween theme for the third year in a row due to its late October date, Meals on Wheels officials said.
Costume contestants will compete for prizes as individuals, couples and groups.
“This is an opportunity for people to support us in a fun way,” Baca said.
It’s been a busy and productive couple years for Meals on Wheels West, which is striving to meet an increased demand for its services.
The local branch of Meals on Wheels delivered more than 39,744 meals to clients over the last six months of 2014, a 32-percent increase over the same six-month period in 2013. And deliveries in the first quarter of 2015 were up 26 percent over the previous year, Baca said.
The poverty level in Santa Monica is higher than it is in Torrance or Culver City, he said, and close to 6 percent of people under 65 in Santa Monica have disabilities.
Baca’s organization recently expanded its service area to include the Oakwood section of Venice from Lincoln Boulevard to the beach between Santa Monica and Marina del Rey.
In addition, Baca said, Meals on Wheels West has bolstered its deliveries of food to recent hospital patients. The initiative, known as Heal Healthy at Home, now involves a partnership with Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica. The program already included connections with UCLA Medical Center, the VA West Los Angeles Medical Center and Kaiser Permanente
Of every dollar donated to Meals on Wheels West, 72 cents goes toward providing meals to people in need, Baca said. Meals on Wheels officials encourage members of the public to keep an eye out for neighbors who could potentially benefit from their services.