Grant Means Hotter Food for Meals on Wheels RecipientsMarch 18, 2010
Phil Spears is well into his East Waco run that has him delivering meals to nearly 20 households in a one-hour span. He's a volunteer for Meals on Wheels, and twice each week, he visits with a group of people he's come to know by name and by need. It's a routine that takes place every day for the organization, a part of Central Texas Senior Ministry, which provides hot food to the home-bound. And it's an organization that just got some good news. A nearly $11,000 grant is coming their way from the Walmart foundation, which will allow them to keep the meals at an optimal temperature. Libby Bellinger is the associate director of Meals on Wheels.
It's clearly better to give recipients a hot meal rather than one they have to re-heat themselves. But says Bellinger, it's also law, with regulations getting tighter.
Says Bellinger, the laws are for the best, as they ensure the safety of their clients. But it's also tough when your region extends from north of Hillsboro to the greater Temple area. In some regions, they've gone to delivering frozen meals once weekly, rather than the hot meal daily. While practical, it cuts down on a major goal of Meals on Wheels--interacting with, and checking up on, the home-bound in the community. Phil Spears has built relationships with the people on his route, some that have lasted for most of the 16 years he's been running the route.
That interaction is important for Spears, who has volunteered since retiring from the Air Force. It's also personal, as his family benefited from the ministry.
And for many of the recipients, Phil is the only person they see outside of their home. He's come to know their medical needs, who is hard of hearing, who wants to chat, and who gets a newspaper. Says Bellinger, that interaction communicates volumes.
Delivering frozen meals because you can't always meet the regulations is a reality for some areas, but is not what they want to do in Waco. Enter the Walmart foundation grant. The money is used to provide ovens that can be plugged into a cigarette lighter to keep the food warm in transit. But, more importantly, it ensures that there's one less obstacle towards keeping the relationships with elderly adults going strong on a daily basis.
For KWBU news, I'm Derek Smith.