Meal recipients of Meals on Wheels of the Jamestown Area will have special emergency meals on hand this winter, thanks to Christ First United Methodist Church.
Meals on Wheels has begun delivering the emergency "blizzard" bags to senior citizens in its area, in anticipation of when Meals on Wheels may not be able to deliver because of poor weather conditions. This year is the second year the church has assembled the emergency bags, which contain non-perishable food and drink items, for Meals on Wheels and its meal recipients.
"We're excited that everyone at the church has decided to do this for us once again," said Barrie Yochim, executive director of Jamestown Meals on Wheels. "Our senior citizens last year really loved the bag and food they received, and many said they hoped we would be having the same group assemble the emergency bags for them again this year."
Pictured are Charles Hodges, church coordinator of mission and outreach, and Pastor Natalie Hanson, right, showing Barrie Yochim, Meals on Wheels executive director, a few of the bags. This year is the second year the church’s members have assembled the emergency bags for Meals on Wheels meal recipients.
The hundreds of bags were assembled by church members after two recent worship services, and Sunday school and confirmation classes helped out, as well. Most of the food for the emergency bags came from Jamestown's Farm Fresh Foods.
"It is a privilege to be able to support a wonderful program like Meals on Wheels, and it blesses us to be able to assist some of the senior citizens in our community in Christ's name," said Pastor Natalie Hanson of Christ First United Methodist Church. "I would also like to thank Steve Senske and Dan Brown at Farm Fresh Foods for partnering with us in this effort."
Meals on Wheels prepares each winter by supplying each client with one day's worth of non-perishable meals, so the client is prepared in case the organization can't deliver because of poor weather.
"Meals on Wheels thinks long and hard before we ever have to close due to the weather," Yochim said. "But, we do look out for the safety of our delivery drivers and volunteers, so when the weather is bad enough, we will close so that everyone is safe. Part of that safety is making sure our meal recipients have their emergency meal bag on hand before the bad weather strikes."
Meals on Wheels averages one closure per year, Yochim said. Meals on Wheels didn't have to close last winter because there was never any threat of poor weather conditions.
Yochim said that Meals on Wheels has had to plan for supplying emergency meals to more senior citizens than last year - more local senior citizens are receiving daily delivery of Meals on Wheels. Senior citizens can receive a heatable or a cold sandwich meal each day, or both, as needed. Meals on Wheels also provides frozen meals to be used on weekends, in some cases.
The suggested cost for home delivery of one heatable meal and one cold meal is $8 per day. For either a heatable or cold meal, the suggested cost is $4.50 per day.
If an individual 60 years old or older can't pay for meals, or can pay only a small amount, the individual can still get meals. The Chautauqua County Office For the Aging provides Meals on Wheels funding for meals for individuals age 60 and older, if they qualify for the program.
Meals on Wheels also receives funding from United Way of Southern Chautauqua County and other individual contributors, which helps offset the meal cost for individuals who can't pay the full amount.
Meals on Wheels can keep its delivery costs low because it utilizes many volunteers who help deliver meals each day. Volunteer delivery routes, called satellite routes, are delivered in Jamestown, Lakewood, Falconer, Celoron and Fluvanna each day. Volunteers deliver more than 80 meals each day for Meals on Wheels. Some Meals on Wheels volunteers are from the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program.
"It's these volunteers we look out for, when we are making the decision whether to close,' Yochim said. "These individuals are valuable to us, and we want to make sure they are as safe as possible."
WCA Hospital prepares meals for Meals on Wheels recipients in southern Chautauqua County from the hospital's Jones Memorial Health Center kitchen.
Any Chautauqua County senior citizen can receive home meal delivery, if the individual qualifies. Meals on Wheels of the Jamestown Area delivers to the southern half of Chautauqua County.
Sinclairville 76ers provides home-delivered meals to participants in the towns of Charlotte, Cherry Creek, Gerry and Ellington, and in Cassadaga, Stockton and Lily Dale. Dunkirk-Fredonia Meals on Wheels provides home-delivered meals to participants along the Lake Erie lakeshore from Brocton to Silver Creek, including the towns of Hanover and Villenova, and in Forestville.
For more information about Meals on Wheels, call 488-9119.