PREBLE COUNTY — During March, the Meals on Wheels Network is celebrating March for Meals.
The annual March for Meals commemorates the historic day in March 1972 when President Nixon signed into law a measure that amended the Older Americans Act of 1965 and established a national nutrition program for seniors 60 years and older. Since 2002, Meals on Wheels programs from across the country have joined forces for the annual awareness campaign to celebrate this successful public-private partnership and garner the support needed to fill the gap between the seniors served and those still in need.
Preble County Council on Aging (PCCOA) is part of the Meals on Wheels Network, but the program is technically called simply “Home Delivered Meals.” Every year to celebrate March for Meals, PCCOA holds “Big Wheels Week,” a week when prominent individuals from the community and county ride along with Home Delivered Meals drivers to deliver meals to local seniors.
This year, Big Wheels Week was held from Monday, March 11 through Friday, March 15. Individuals got to see first hand the difference that Home Delivered Meals can make in these seniors lives.
“Big Meals Week is to raise awareness for Home Delivered Meals for seniors. For one thing, the program keeps our seniors in their homes longer. It is a way for us to get out and check on the seniors. The seniors sometimes don’t have anybody to visit them, so it is a nice friendly face to see and talk to,” In-Home Service Supervisor Shirley Cottingim said.
“Big Meals Week is exciting, we invite guests from the community and they ride along with the drivers. They get to see, first hand, the needs of what our seniors need out there as far as nutrition. We have a different group riding along each day.
“A lot of people don’t know what it means to deliver a meal. They get to see what it means to the seniors, who may not have a meal for the day or can’t cook. They have that meal prepared for them. Just be aware, there are seniors out there with needs.”
Home Delivered Meals are delivered five days a week, Monday through Friday. They get one hot lunch, with a protein, vegetable, and fruit. They also get a cold pack that consists of the fruit, milk, bread, and butter.
To qualify for services they have to be a senior in Preble County over the age of 60. They would call in, speak with a Service Navigator who would assess them for services on a point system.
Service Navigator Brittney Daugherty fills in for drivers when they call in sick. She gets to see first hand the difference Home Delivered Meals make in the senior’s lives.
“I like seeing the clients faces. This is the only time they get to see people sometimes, so you’er the highlight of their day. For the meals and it is the only company some of them get. To see their faces and see them smile, it is amazing,” she said.
“A lot of our seniors don’t have family that helps them with their meals. They wouldn’t get to eat without this program, a lot of them. It is a good program to have.”
For senior Linda Parks, Home Delivered Meals was a blessing in a time of need.
“It is wonderful. I don’t have the energy right now to cook my meals, because I’m having radiation. I probably would have ate toast or something for lunch, but this is a nutritious meal I get now. My doctors are really happy about it too,” she said.
“When you get elderly and you’re sick too, you put your eating aside. You don’t really eat like you should eat. With these meals, they’re always so delicious, whether you feel good or not, you eat them because they smell so good. I am so glad that I get to eat before radiation.”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH