By Wendy Coschignano Ford on Wednesday, February 21, 2024

We are gearing up for our 19th annual March for Meals St. Patrick’s 5k Run/Walk, our yearly fun run to create awareness of senior hunger while raising money for our expansive Meals on Wheels program.

Scheduled for Saturday, March 16 at Kissimmee Lakefront Park, we are again anticipating a multitude of collaboration from community partners, participating businesses, county leaders, both Osceola and Orange County residents, and our own Osceola Council on Aging (OCOA) March for Meals team members (All wearing green!) to support this annual event.

With more than 380 participants and 30 teams last year, we are hoping for an even larger turnout this year. Registration will begin at 7:45 am, with a gunshot start at 8 am, and festivities concluding around 11.

For teams participating, there will be the annual awards for the Most Spirited Team, the Largest Team, along with The Beverly Hougland Award, which will be presented to the organization which has gone above and beyond in engaging their employees to support OCOA initiatives. This honor went to the Osceola County Sherriff’s Office last year for their work in caring for the at-risk residents within our community.

Community teams include Kissimmee Utility Authority (KUA) as our presenting sponsor, The Osceola County Sherriff’s Department, City of Kissimmee, Osceola County Tax Collectors Office, and the Osceola County Health Department—expect to see them loud and proud!

The Kissimmee Police Department will also be on hand to both support our event while keeping everyone safe.

Further, this fundraiser is imperative to our work in providing our Meals on Wheels program within the community. We have more than 300 seniors on the waiting list with proceeds allowing for expansion of the program.

Also important to note, without our Meals on Wheels volunteer drivers, this program would be impossible to execute. In 2023 alone, 190,000 meals were delivered to nearly 1,100 clients. Our drivers reach community residents who, sadly, would have difficulty surviving without this nutrition program.

“March is an important time for us to come together to ensure Meals on Wheels is there for our senior neighbors in need,” said Ellie Hollander, President and CEO of Meals on Wheels America.

According to Hollander, the demand for services continues to be great, and with more than 12,000 Americans turning 60 every day, the need will only continue to increase.

“We must maintain and expand this program which has helped many individuals. We cannot do it alone. It takes all of us to keep the nationwide Meals on Wheels movement going,” Hollander added.

As the president/CEO of the OCOA, I continue to be inspired by the overwhelming support we receive for our ongoing fundraising initiatives throughout the year. March for Meals, specifically, is quite special to me to see the smiling faces who participate, along with the team spirit of those who come together in partnership to support senior hunger.

So, please put on your St. Patrick’s Day green, come out to the Kissimmee Lakefront, and support our March for Meals annual 5K Run/Walk March 16.

Go to the March for Meals registration website to sign up.