Meals on Wheels sustains seniors

Meals on Wheels sustains seniors

Meals on Wheels sustains seniors

When an accident made it impossible to cook for herself, the meals delivered for a year to her home helped a senior citizen rebuild her strength and independence. Since her recovery, she continues to volunteer at the Pershing County Senior Center, where meals are prepared for home-bound citizens.

“I hurt my back and had crushed vertebrae so I needed meals,“ she said. “I couldn’t walk for a long time and was pretty much bed-ridden for a year. I have no relatives and had no way to get up and cook.”

Without the delivered meals, she would have had a diet of snacks but little or nothing nutritious to eat. It is still difficult for her to stand and cook so the volunteer has her main daily meal at the senior center.

“There’s a lot of home-bound people here that are incapacitated to the point where they can’t cook meals anymore,” she said. The suggested donation for a meal delivered to clients who are at least 60 years of age is $2.50 or whatever the senior can afford. “Where else can you get a good meal for that?”

As a former Meals on Wheels client, the woman must remain anonymous due to the home-bound meal program’s privacy policies under state law according to Senior Center Director Jordan McKinney.

In the four years since she starting running the senior center, McKinney said there have been as many as 40 people a day on the home-bound list. State funding depends on her estimates of meals needed for the coming year. That’s difficult to predict as senior citizens  move in and out of town or pass away.

McKinney said meals are now being delivered to around 20 to 22 home-bound meal recipients.

Pershing County augments the home-bound meal budget when the state grant is short — as it was this year — so that no one is turned away. A private $3,000 Lions Club donation is also a welcome contribution.

“The donation will help tremendously in regards to serving the home-bound population. Our number of clients went down a little so our grant got cut $10,000 by the state and that hit us pretty hard,” McKinneyt said. “I have to estimate how many meals I think we’re going to serve based on current numbers but our numbers are steadily increasing so this donation is a huge step in the right direction.”

The $3,000 donation to Meals on Wheels was made possible through the Lovelock Lions Club, the profit sharing arm of Thrivent Financial, Norma Gibson and the Gibson Family Trust, according to Lions Club Secretary Larry Rackley. Part of the trust’s funds are earmarked for the senior center and, last year, a $4,000 Lions Club donation paid for a new ice machine and a garbage disposal, he said.

“We never know how much money is available because it’s a profit-sharing program,” Rackley said. “To us, it’s going to a good cause and it could go on every year depending on the funding.”

Private donations support Meals on Wheels as well as other senior center programs, McKinney said.

“We have a lady in Reno that actually sends us a check every single month for the home-bound meals,” she said. “She lived here for awhile and has always been a big supporter of the senior center and that continued even after she moved to Reno.”

Anyone who is home-bound permanently or temporarily for health reasons qualifies for the program, McKinney said. Meals can be delivered for a few days, weeks, months or until the person recovers.

“I think that’s a stigma in regards to our home-bound program,” McKinney said. “A lot of people think you have to be sick long-term and it doesn’t have to be a long term thing. People receive home-bound meals after they’ve had surgery and are only home for a week. They can receive home-bound meals if they only have a cold and don’t want to leave the house, come here and get everyone else sick.”

As well as the home-bound meals, dining hall meals are served to seniors at least 60 years of age for a suggested donation of $2.50. Everyone is welcome but those below the age of 60 years must pay $5 per meal, McKinney said. It may be the most affordable dining in town and is a social event as well.

“Anyone can receive any of our services,” McKinney said. “If you are under 60, it’s a mandatory fee but if you’re 60 or over, it’s a donation of whatever you can afford. You can pay 50 cents, 10 cents or you could pay nothing. Even if you don’t have anything to pay, we still provide the services to you.”

Senior Center Administrative Assistant Cassie Booth drives the hot meals to home-bound clients.

“It’s important because there’s a few of them that don’t eat unless this meal is delivered,” she said.