June 24th, 2024

Meals on Wheels: Food with a smile

By Gillian Slade on July 12, 2018.

John John loads up Meals on Wheels for delivery Wednesday morning. ÊIt's a service that delivers hot meals, smiles and a chat.--NEWS PHOTO GILLIAN SLADE


It is so much more than just a meal.

With Meals on Wheels, you also get a smiling face, a cheery hello and a little chat from the volunteer making the delivery. For some, it may be the only person to visit that day.

“He’s my weathervane, too,” said Martha Schmidt, 94, who shakes hands with John John delivering her meal. If his hands are warm she knows what it is like out of doors. “He couldn’t be better.”

John, who has been a volunteer Meals on Wheels driver for 18 years, starts loading up the large Styrofoam boxes holding freshly cooked meals just after 9 a.m. at Strathcona Centre. He has a list prepared in the office of the names and addresses of people who have ordered meals. There are even special instructions in some cases. The route is planned carefully to avoid unnecessary travel.

Simon and Emma Hammel started getting Meals on Wheels four years ago after experiencing some health issues. They say all the volunteer drivers are polite, on time and always happy. The food is also really good. Ordering the meals means they do not need to do a whole lot of grocery shopping, not to mention cooking.

Another client says he is having chemotherapy and so recently started ordering Meals on Wheels.

There are more than 50 drivers covering eight routes across the city, says John, who is the second longest volunteer driver in the program. They each use their own vehicle and gas. In return they are given a full membership to the seniors centre. Every four weeks they have one week where they deliver every day, Monday to Friday.

Because no deliveries are made on Saturday and Sunday, the drivers often have additional frozen meals to leave with clients. These can be heated up over the weekend.

“I sure hope they don’t change anything because this is a great service,” said Brian Moore, who has had a number of health challenges and a recent surgery.

The menus are great and obviously done by a professional, the service is superb, and the volunteers do a great job, said Moore, who particularly likes the ham and pea soup. Meals on Wheels is affordable, which is also important because he is retired and living on a pension.

Over the years John has noticed it is often a change in health that can trigger someone choosing to have Meals on Wheels. He says it is the appreciation the people have of the service that keeps him volunteering.

“A happy face makes it so worthwhile,” said John. “We can provide a service that brings happiness.”

About an hour later John has delivered eight meals and returns to Strathcona Centre to drop off the empty Styrofoam containers. He says some routes are longer with up to 20 or 25 deliveries each morning.

Meals On Wheels dinners are $8.50 per meal, according to the city’s website. For additional information, call the Meals On Wheels co-ordinator 403-525-8885 or by email: mow@medicinehat.ca

Additional Meals on Wheels information is also available on the city’s website.

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