Last year Meals on Wheels volunteer drivers delivered more than 155,000 meals to 1,555 homebound seniors in Cumberland and York counties and for many recipients, the meals they received was the only meal they ate that day. COURTESY PHOTO/Southern Maine Agency on Aging

Last year Meals on Wheels volunteer drivers delivered more than 155,000 meals to 1,555 homebound seniors in Cumberland and York counties and for many recipients, the meals they received was the only meal they ate that day. COURTESY PHOTO/Southern Maine Agency on Aging

BIDDEFORD — Those with a New Year’s resolution of making a difference in the lives of others should take a look at becoming a volunteer or making a donation to the Meals on Wheels Program.

Administered by the Southern Maine Agency on Aging, Meals on Wheels and its group of volunteers deliver five meals each week to the elderly, shut-ins and the disabled. They also offer a daily wellness check through a service called “Phone Pals.”  

Meals arrive on Tuesdays or Thursdays between 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. and volunteers are trained to make sure that residents are safe when making their deliveries, giving peace of mind to those they serve and their families.  

In Biddeford, about 23 volunteers and agency staff members work out of the J. Richard Martin Community Center and all meals that are served are approved by a Maine registered dietitian. 

Every meal served by the program is designed to meet one-third of the Federal Dietary Reference Intake for a healthy and balanced diet. The meals are freshly prepared and ready to eat when convenient for participants.

Entrées typically feature a protein main dish, a side dish, and a vegetable. Each meal also includes a small loaf of bread and those receiving meals can also obtain one quart of milk each week.

Several meal options are available for those with dietary concerns including standard, low sodium, vegetarian, gluten-free, and pureed meals.

There is no income eligibility for participants, but to qualify for the program a resident must be 60 or older, and primarily homebound or has trouble getting out of the home. They also must be unable to regularly prepare nutritious meals, available to accept meals during the delivery time frame and consent to an in-home nutritional assessment.

A per meal donation of $3.50 is asked in order to keep the program going. However, donations of all sizes are welcome and no resident will ever be turned away if unable to contribute at the selected rate.

Volunteers for Meals on Wheels undertake a variety of tasks while working with the program.

Some volunteers help package deliveries for distribution at meal delivery sites, others make deliveries to homebound seniors or are part of the “Warming Crew” to help heat up meals for residents who cannot do that for themselves. And some are “Phone Pals” to conduct a daily phone wellness check-in with clients.

In 2016, Meals on Wheels volunteer drivers delivered more than 155,000 meals to 1,555 homebound seniors in Cumberland and York counties. And for many recipients, the meals they received was the only meal they ate that day and the volunteer driver was the only contact they had with the outside world during the week. 

For those without time to volunteer, the Southern Maine Agency on Aging does gratefully accept donations to assist in making a difference in the lives of their friends and neighbors.

For more information about the Meals on Wheels program, or to make a donation, call 1-800-427-7411 or visit http://www.smaaa.org/meals.html. 

— Executive Editor Ed Pierce can be reached at 282-1535 ext. 326 or by email at [email protected]


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