Championing Meals on Wheels, more than a food service

Community champion Donnie Bowes (l-r) enjoying his time delivering Meals on Wheels Friday. First stop was Les Alcock who always looks forward to a chat and laugh with delivery volunteers Arla Veinotte and Doug Nugent. (The Leader/Comfort photos)

MORRISBURG – It’s been about a year since the organization that offered Meals on Wheels services to Morrisburg and Iroquois merged with Williamsburg Non-Profit Housing Services and since then WNPH has been providing Meals on Wheels services across all of South Dundas.

“We serve over 6,000 meals a year across South Dundas, from our two kitchens” said Tracy Crowder, WNPH’s executive director. She explained that when the services were merged, WNPH opted to continue to operate both the Morrisburg and Williamsburg kitchens.

The number of clients being served has increased slightly over last year.

Friday, cook Sue Donnelly and assistant cook Sharon Ziebarth were sending out that day’s hot meal of salmon, rice, mixed vegetables and pea soup with pumpkin crunch cake for dessert, and working ahead to prepare the next batch of cold meals.

This three course meal costs clients $5, a price that the organization has been able to maintain for the last couple of years.

Friday was a special day for the local Meals on Wheels program as they had two community champions, South Dundas mayor Evonne Delegarde and Upper Canada Playhouse director Donnie Bowes, join the volunteers delivering meals to clients in Iroquois and Morrisburg.

Crowder explained that this initiative was part of the March for Meals program designed to raise overall awareness of the program for potential clients, volunteers and the community.

“It also gives us an opportunity to raise awareness about the need for funding,” said Crowder. She explained that the program is funded by the Local Health Integration Network and the fee charged to clients. “It has been at least five years since there has been any increase in funding,” she said adding that in other areas organizations have had to increase the cost of meals, some as high as $11.50.

Tracy Crowder (l-r), executive director for Williamsburg Non Profit Housing was in the Morrisburg Meals on Wheels kitchen Friday as part of the March for Meals initiative, with assistant cook Sharon Ziebarth, cook Sue Donnelly and Cathy Tupper, team leader, community support services WNPH.

“It’s important that we keep the meals affordable,” said Cathy Tupper, team leader, Community Support Services with WNPH.

“If it gets too expensive, people will try to do without, and that’s not good,” said Crowder. “We can manage with our budget to continue to offer the meals for $5.”

“I really enjoy the meals,” said Les Alcock, a client here in Morrisburg. Friday, he was waiting patiently at the door of his apartment for his meals to arrive.

He was receiving a hot meal for Friday, and a cold meal to enjoy sometime later in the weekend. “I would definitely recommend this Meals on Wheels service to anyone,” he told The Leader.

Doug Nugent has been delivering Meals on Wheels in Morrisburg for about two years. “I’m amazed at the number of volunteers we have to help us deliver,” he said. “There are so many, our turn to deliver only comes around about once a month. That’s a lot of volunteer support for such a small community.”

Arla Veinotte became a delivery volunteer about a year ago.

“I really enjoy visiting with people,” she said.

As a retired public health nurse, those home visits were always a part of what she did and she really likes to be able to interact with people in this way.

“The seniors really appreciate what we are doing. Our interaction with them is so important,” she added.

For Bowes, this experience as champion was the first opportunity to participate in meal delivery, although he has been very aware of the program for a long time, and has known people who are Meals on Wheels clients.

“It struck me what a terrific experience it was going to peoples’ homes and having a short conversation with them,” said Bowes.

“They’re all very appreciative of receiving the meals and the Meals on Wheels volunteers I was paired up with obviously knew these people and enjoyed chatting with them.”

“I was also struck by how the volunteers took the opportunity during the visit to see how the clients were doing and if they were well. I thought that was a great part of the program.”

“I really enjoyed the morning,” concluded Bowes “And the meals looked great!”

Meals on Wheels always welcomes new clients and new volunteers. Anyone interested can contact Williamsburg Non Profit Housing directly.