Meals on Wheels Beaver County: Providing Vital Support to the Community

Grace Lutheran Church in Rochester looks like any other church from the outside, but every Monday, the inside is transformed into a distribution center for Meals on Wheels of Beaver County.

Operated by the Lutheran Service Society and supported by the United Way of Beaver County, the program provides meals for seniors in need. Each meal cost $4.99 and participants can receive five to 14 meals a week. However, no one will ever be denied a meal if they are unable to pay explained Diane Snyder, Assistant Manager of the Meals on Wheels program.

Volunteers gather in the old assembly hall at 8 a.m. every Monday to start the process of preparing and packaging meals for delivery. Of the 25 volunteers, everyone contributes to the packing, heating food, and the logistics needed to deliver meals to the older adults that rely on them.

“Our volunteers are very important to us. We couldn’t run Meals on Wheels without them,” said Diane Snyder. “They deliver food to those in need in our community, help set up the food and milk, and help clean up.”

Bea Diaz-Cothen, who has volunteered for the past 6 years, understands that not everyone is as fortunate as her and her family. She volunteers to set an example for her children.

“I volunteer to show my kids what helping the community is about,” explained Diaz-Cothen.

With approximately 20 different options, meals come labeled with nutritional information as well as simple instructions for preparation.

While the meals are important, there is often an overlooked part of the deliveries. In some cases, the only interaction the participants may have during the week is with the volunteers. Wellness checks serve as an integral part of Meals on Wheels program.

“The meals we deliver provides food to people who can’t get out to shop, or cook anymore, and provides them with peace of mind and a wellness check,” explained Snyder.

Volunteer driver Walter VanDyke delivers 600 meals each week to 120 people on 19 different routes. “I like to give back. What better organization than Meals on Wheels?,” acknowledged VanDyke.

Thanks to the financial support of the Beaver County Office on Aging and the United Way of Beaver County, Meals on Wheels Beaver County serves a combined 1,200 meals each month including breakfasts, lunches and dinners to low income seniors throughout the county.

Reese Smith, site coordinator for Meals on Wheels, understands the overall impact of the program. “I try and help anyway I can. Being able to give back to my community that means a lot to me,” explained Smith. “I have seen first-hand the impact these meals are having. To some it’s just not a meal, but a sense of hope and provides them someone they can interact with.”