Ensures Meals Reach Qualified Seniors
John Olin and Marie Willadson are two of more than 1,500 volunteers delivering mid-day hot meals and frozen weekend meals that reach more than 2,100 clients in the tri-county area. John is 92, and he delivers meals 15 days a month on six different routes.
While he kiddingly says his routes “keep him out of trouble,” he realizes many seniors might be nutritionally-challenged if not for the meals he delivers. He says, “For some clients, I am the only person who checks on them, and we have prevented health emergencies because we reported a senior in need of medical care. I like to spend a little time with each person, and sometimes I get a hug before I leave.”
Marie Willadson is a new caregiver, having temporarily taken over the route of a friend at Serenity Place, Grand Ledge. She delivers meals to 10 seniors at Serenity Place. “Recipients generally have a big smile on their faces when I appear, and I have the time to visit is a client is so inclined.”
Leojean Louise, a Serenity Place resident, signed up for Meals on Wheels to lose weight with meals that are portion-controlled and free of sodium. ”I love to cook, and I was cooking more than was healthy. My doctor told me I must lose weight to avoid many problems associated with obesity. Meals on Wheels has helped me lose over 50 pounds.”
Carl Buonodono, Nutrition Director for TCOA’s Meals on Wheels (MOW) Program, says all meals are prepared in the licensed kitchens at 5303 S. Cedar, packaged and delivered to drop-off sites for volunteers. All kitchen staff, clients and caregivers complete applications and undergo background checks.
Recipient referrals come from hospital discharge planners, directors of short-term care transition programs, nursing homes discharging patients to home, and increasingly, from family or self-referrals.
Meals on Wheels Eligibility
Those eligible for Meals on Wheels must be:
- 60 years old or older
- The spouse or partner of an individual receiving Meals on Wheels
- Individuals unable to prepare nutritious meals
- Those under 60 with a disability and living in a household of an eligible recipient.
Meals on Wheels Funding
“Recipients have an opportunity to donate toward meal costs, so others can benefit from meal services. There is a suggested donation, but no individual is ever denied a meal because of inability to contribute. We receive federal, state and local funding, and hold three annual fundraisers – a dinner and auction, a spring 5K run/walk, and a summer golf outing. A number of businesses and individual donors also contribute to the program.
“Adults over 60 are invited to senior dining sites through the tri-county area. Not only do they receive nutritious meals, they also meet new friends, and participate in educational and entertainment programs.
“Our Senior Dine Program is a partnership with local restaurants. Qualified clients receive vouchers for participating restaurants. This gives clients an occasional meal outside the home.
Project Fresh, a program that operates June – October at participating farmers’ markets takes coupons from qualified seniors for purchase of fruits and vegetables.
“What we really need are more volunteers to deliver meals. As our population ages, we have more requests for services. Volunteers are trained to deliver meals and check on the well-being of clients, almost always working with an experienced volunteer.
Carl admits this popular senior program often overshadows other crucial services of the Tri-County on Aging. These include support groups, illness education programs, elder law, grief recovery programs, refugee support in collaboration with Cristo Rey Community Center, housing assistance, exercise programs, respite caregiver opportunities, Medicare/Medicaid Assistance, AARP tax counseling. To see the full array of TCOA services, call (517) 887-1440 or 1-800-405-9141 or visit the website – www.tcoa.org