April 24th, 2024

Meals on Wheels campaign much more than just a meal

By BRENDAN MILLER on March 23, 2024.

bmiller@medicinehatnews.com

This month staff and volunteers at the Unison Veiner Centre have been raising funds to provide seniors well-balanced meals who may need a little extra help due to a variety of reasons, including physical disabilities, illnesses or cognitive impairments.

The March for Meals campaign raises awareness and funding for the Meals on Wheels program run by the Veiner Centre and is available year round.

The program delivers hot meals directly to seniors’ homes by trained volunteers who prepare the meals each morning.

Meals on Wheels is accessed by seniors who are unable to do their own grocery shopping or are unable to prepare their own meals and are set at a flat rate of $10 per meal.

However, the program is able to subsidize that cost for low-income seniors to ensure they can afford the food.

“We want to make sure that we’re taking care of their health and providing them with those good nutritious meals,” says Cori Fischer, director of the Veiner Centre. “Some of them do have mobility issues. Some of them have other disabilities as well. We do have some that are not seniors but are unable to prepare meals for themselves living independently.”

The program goes beyond a meal, acting as a powerful tool to combat social isolation among homebound seniors, as volunteers often spend time with their seniors and are able to perform wellness checks.

“It is so much more than just a meal,” says Ficsher. “It’s also preventing some social isolation and it provides us an opportunity to do a small check in on them as well.

“(Our volunteers) can determine if there’s significant health changes or significant cognitive changes, and we can connect them with other resources in the community.”

There are currently 86 volunteers who prepare and deliver meals each week day. Most volunteers deliver between eight and 20 meals a day. Volunteers typically work week-long shifts allowing them to become familiar with their clients.

“We have eight different routes that we run through Medicine Hat,” says Fischer. “The volunteers tend to have the same road so that they get to know the clients really well and can ask them questions about how grandchildren and children are doing and then they can recognize those significant changes in house and appearance.”

The city funds roughly 21 per cent of the cost to run the Meals on Wheels program through its Family and Community Support Services grant. The remainder is raised through community fundraising efforts.

Throughout the month of March, Shamrock Bottle Depot has been collecting bottle donations for Meals on Wheels.

As well, the Veiner Centre has partnered with The Keg, Moxies and Medicine Hat Brewing Company, which will donate $1 from every sale of Meals on Wheels margarita or mojito.

This month the Veiner Centre is also celebrating ‘Champion Week’ and inviting special guests to come down and help their volunteers, including representatives from MLA Justin Wright’s office and Mayor Linnsie Clark, city councillors and members of the Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s really a wonderful opportunity for our special guests to really get an idea of the importance of delivering these meals and providing these meals,” says Fischer. “And meeting the people who are actually benefiting from this program.”

Donations and volunteer applications for Meals on Wheels can be found online at unisonalberta.com/medhat-mow or in person at the Veiner Centre.

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