Meals on Wheels: Caring for the Caregiver

When you think “Meals on Wheels,” you might imagine an elderly resident of your community receiving a well-balanced meal from a friendly volunteer. This could be the only food he or she has to eat all day and possibly the only human interaction experienced.

That scenario continues today; however, after more than 50 years of operating Meals on Wheels in Beaver County, Lutheran Service Society and the United Way of Beaver County are reimagining how the program can further assist caregivers as well as more traditional Meals on Wheels participants.

Healthy eating is often one of the first habits individuals put aside when they are dealing with caregiver stress.

“We would typically consider someone eligible for Meals on Wheels if they lack the ability to grocery shop and cook for themselves,” explains LSS Administrator Sarah Israel.  “Now we are seeing a need among people who are able to complete these tasks, but are in danger of falling into unhealthy eating patterns.”

Program Manager Michael Dengel adds, “Caregivers by definition are taking care of others. But we want to make it easier on them to take care of themselves as well.”

Meals on Wheels is making its affordable, convenient, and nutritious meal service available to caregivers of all ages, in addition to the program’s regular client base.

Meals on Wheels meals may be ordered in quantities of 5, 10, or 14 meals, and all of the meals for the week are delivered frozen on Mondays. The meals are hot and ready from the microwave in just 5-7 minutes. (For clients who require a pre-heated meal, Monday through Friday deliveries are available.)

Each meal is currently priced at $4.50, and payments of check, credit card, and debit card are accepted.

You can order meals to be delivered to your home or a loved one’s residence each week. You have a choice of ordering 5, 10, or 14 meals for each week, and can change your desired quantities or even “pause” deliveries as needed.  Each standard meal includes a protein, starch, and vegetable, and the meals have no preservatives, no added sugar, and low sodium to meet a variety of dietary needs. Breakfast options are also available.

Israel notes, “Even as we expand our work with caregivers and family members to provide proper nutrition for themselves and their loved ones, we will continue our mission to address senior hunger and isolation through our program.”

As an example, it has become an annual tradition at Meals on Wheels to deliver hot Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners to participants who will be alone for the holidays.  “For our more isolated participants, that human contact and special attention is just as important as the nutrition we provide,” adds Dengel.

If you or someone you know lives anywhere in Beaver County and could benefit from home delivery of meals each week, call Meals on Wheels at (724) 774-0292.

Watch the full broadcast on KDKA’s website.