Meals on Wheels expands in Scituate

Meals on Wheels expands in Scituate

Scituate Town Council President Jim Brady delivers a nutritious meal to a local Meals on Wheels recipient to raise awareness of the nonprofit’s benefits to the homebound senior community. (Photo by Jacquelyn Moorehead)

SCITUATE – Meals on Wheels is celebrating a successful first week of expanded services in Scituate, where more than 20 town residents are now being served meals, up from a previous total of six.

Town Council President Jim Brady assisted Meals on Wheels in delivering a meal to a local recipient on Monday. The man, who asked to remain anonymous, welcomed Brady and Town Councilor Timothy McCormick, Senior Services Director Dina Elhelw and representatives from Meals on Wheels into his home to speak about the benefits the program offers him.

At 71 years old, the man said he is no longer able to stand long enough to cook full meals due to his dependence on an oxygen tank to treat his severe COPD. He said though he can reheat a can of soup or pour a bowl of cereal, making an actual meal is too difficult for him with his condition.

“Preparing an entire meal is just out of the question. Meals on Wheels of Rhode Island makes it possible for me to eat healthy at least once a day, five days a week and that’s important,” said the resident.

He added that the meals are nutritious, come in a variety of options, and some of the items he receives he would never think of purchasing himself.

“It’s a blessing for me,” said the recipient.

He, like other meal recipients, are only asked to donate what they can afford, but a $3 donation is suggested. According to Rebecca Keister, development and public relations specialist with Meals on Wheels, about 12 percent of meal recipients can give.

“I try to give money, but I live with a budget and wish I could give more,” he said. “Everyone deserves to have a chance at this.”

Meals on Wheels will not refuse service if a person can’t afford to donate. Instead, the subsidized nonprofit holds fundraisers throughout the year to fund the program. This month is March for Meals, where the 50-year-old organization reaches out to businesses and potential donors to help fund and raise awareness for the program.

In 2018, Meals on Wheels served more than 301,000 meals and provided safety checks for 2,446 Rhode Islanders using more than 700 volunteers through 79 weekday routes.

The organization regularly has hundreds of seniors on its waiting list, and the need continues to grow as the senior population increases in Rhode Island.

In his home on Carpenter Road, the 71-year-old is about as far out in the woods in Scituate as one can get. According to Keister, the distance is part of the reason why the organization struggled to get into Scituate.

With Elhelw’s help, three volunteers from Scituate will help Meals on Wheels deliver to more people in town. Elhelw said the program is seeking additional volunteers to deliver meals to homebound senior citizens.

Lauri Kaplan, interim co-executive director, said seniors such as the man on Carpenter Road are the reason the program is essential to the community. In addition to delivering meals to Scituate seniors, drivers will perform important wellness checks when visiting the home three days a week.

“Sometimes our staff deals with the fallen-and-can’t-get-up situation. Sometimes us being there and checking helps them get the medical attention they need,” Kaplan said.

Meals on Wheels is celebrating 50 years of serving the community this year. For more information on services, or to volunteer, call 401-351-6700.