Meals for Wheels
Nicole Aponte, SYRACUSE, N.Y. – ‘Meals on Wheels’, a local non-profit organization, has made changes to its operations this past year. Their mission is to plan, organize, and administer the service of delivering of nutritious meals, nutrition education and resource assistance to those unable to do so for themselves. The staff guarantees two meals a day to seniors in need, for up to seven days a week.
The organization usually produces 200,000+ meals per year, but with a demand for pre-made meals in the Syracuse community, ‘Meals on Wheels’ increased their production to 230,000 meals (or 18%). With this increase, delivery days are set to be Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, while the other two days are spent unpacking trucks filled with food to be made.
Community Relations director, Michael Nortman discusses the biggest change in the precautions they take to keep everyone safe. “Before the pandemic, we would knock on the doors, hand the clients the meals and have a brief conversation. So now, what we do is we put the meals down either on the table, chair, or floor in front of the door. We knock on the door and step back to a safe distance.”
Personal connection is a key part in volunteering for ‘Meals on Wheels’. The volunteers that help out in their free-time at ‘Meals on Wheels’ are an inspiration to all. Some prepare food in the kitchen, and others personally deliver food throughout Onondaga County. The volunteers have a special relationship with the clients, and look forward to that in-person conversation they share.
First year volunteer, Claude McNeal talks about how he looks forward to the delivery just as much as the clientele does. “They just want someone to talk to and to hear to brighten their day up; and with a good meal… it brings joy to my heart.”
The pandemic has cut the number of volunteers that are needed. ‘Meals on Wheels’ staff and volunteers pivoted to this change, in which online recruitment seminars took place to look for new faces to lend a helping hand. The staff even planned the ‘Alley Cat Bike Race’ to be a virtual event in which riders are given meals to be dropped off at local businesses across Syracuse. The second race is this summer, and you can register at https://runsignup.com/Race/NY/Syracuse/MealsonWheelsAlleyCatRace
Michael Nortman also reflects on the relationship that ‘Meals on Wheels’ has with the SU community. ‘OrangeSeeds’, the first year leadership empowerment program, painted walls within the office in the past. This non-profit also was the beneficiary of the Sports Management club at Syracuse University. He appreciates all of the support from the Orange community, and looks forward to working with them in the near future.
‘Meals on Wheels’ is ready to change the world one meal at a time, and needs your help to do so. If you are interested in volunteering, visit www.meals.org/volunteer.