There’s nothing quite like a visit from a good friend – especially when they come to your home bearing a tasty home-cooked meal.
The volunteers at White Rock’s Meals on Wheels program have been providing hot, delicious and healthy food, delivered with a smile, for more than 45 years.
There are many reasons why seniors in the community may want to sign up for a meal-delivery service, according to program co-ordinator Pat Patton.
Whether their clients are recovering from illness or injury, unable to safely cook for themselves any longer, or simply want a break from cooking, Patton says Meals on Wheels can offer as little or as much help as they need.
“We come on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and we do deliver on public holidays,” Patton explained. “Sometimes our clients don’t want us to deliver all three days, so it can be personally tailored to whatever they would like.”
The meals are prepared fresh at Evergreen Campus of Care, and although the program offers a set menu, Patton said she is able to specialize the meals slightly based on preference and dietary requirements.
“The one part of the meal I can change is the protein,” she said. “We have some people who don’t want fish, so on those days, they wouldn’t get fish.”
Patton said there is a good variety in the meals – which are low in fat and salt content – including dishes such as chicken stew, roast, baked ham, meatballs and more.
Volunteers with the program do far more than simply deliver a hot meal, Patton noted.
They provide a sense of security for their elderly clients, many of whom live on their own, and on occasion might be in need of assistance.
“If there’s no reply when a volunteer delivers, they will leave the meal, but word will get back to me at the end of delivery, and I would be checking up on them in the afternoon,” Patton said. “Most of the time, it’s nothing more than they went to the laundry or something, but sometimes people have been needing help.”
Among the information Patton collects from clients is their doctor’s phone number and a family contact, should an emergency arise.
Drivers are often asked to help clients with any number of things they might need a hand with, and Patton said they are always happy to oblige.
“Our regular drivers and regular clients really get to know each other, and it’s a position of trust and friendship very often,” she said.
The program is something of a well-oiled machine, made up of more than 50 volunteers servicing around 60 clients throughout White Rock and South Surrey.
On delivery days, the co-ordinators, known as day captains sort the different routes, ensuring they have enough drivers and distributing any special requirements.
Each driver is given a book with a map, and a card for each client that is marked according to their order.
Some clients pay with each meal delivery – at a cost of $6 – while some pay at the end of the month.
In addition to the friendships that are made between clients and volunteers, Patton said there is a great sense of camaraderie among the program’s volunteers, who meet briefly on the mornings they deliver before heading out on the road.
“Some of our volunteers have been with us for decades, and luckily we’re getting some nice new ones,” Patton said. “We have young mothers with children in schools, to people still delivering in their 80s.”
Patton encourages anyone who is interested in the program – whether as a volunteer or client – to call the office at 604-541-6325.
Potential clients are welcome to test the program out for a week or two to see if it’s something that will suit their needs, she said.
“Give yourself a holiday,” Patton said. “When you think of how many meals you’ve made in a lifetime, these are meals you don’t have to shop for, you don’t have to cook and you can even recycle the dishes.”
More information can also be found online at www.whiterockmealsonwheels.com