Meals On Wheels fundraiser helps community’s elderly

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Emily Franke

Meals On Wheels is a locally funded agency through which volunteers deliver prepared meals to individuals of any age who have a problem preparing their own meal, regardless of their ability to pay, according to mealsonwheelscolumbia.org. The “Big Wheels” fundraiser is the primary fundraiser for the agency, the site said. Each gourmet meal contains a sandwich, pasta salad, apple and chocolate chip cookie, and costs $10 with $5 going directly to Meals on Wheels, according to mealsonwheelscolumbia.org. In order for an order to be delivered, the order must have a minimum of three meals, according to the site.

Last week, secretary Denise McGonigle emailed the information for this fundraiser to teachers and put forms in the teachers lounge, hoping teachers would support Meals on Wheels, which in turn supports the elderly of our community.

“I’ve supported [Meals on Wheels] for about five years. I became aware of Meals On Wheels by working here at Rock Bridge High School. Later I found out that my own grandmother benefits from the Meals On Wheels program in South Texas,” McGonigle said. “I can appreciate the program after realizing how much my grandma appreciates the meals she receives on the weeks she’s under the weather and can’t prepare her own meals. Or if the weather is bad and she can’t get out to buy her own groceries.”

Similarly, media specialist Gwen Struchtemeyer’s mother benefitted from the program for five years before she moved to Lenor assisted care. In both Struchtemeyer’s and McGonigle’s experience, Meals on Wheels provides more than just food and delivery to those who benefit from the program. McGonigle’s grandmother enjoys the company of the volunteers who deliver the food, she said, and often the volunteers stay with her grandmother while she eats so she isn’t eating alone.

“She has met new friends through the program and people who care about her,” McGonigle said. “I believe there is a lot to be said by volunteers in the community helping the elderly. Respecting our elders and learning from them and realizing we all are going to age someday and seeing what the needs of the elderly are. I would think each volunteer gets a lot of satisfaction from volunteering with this program.”

In another way, volunteers can become first responders in emergencies, Struchtemeyer said. While she never experienced the circumstance with her mother, Struchtemeyer knows volunteers notice if a meal from a previous day has not been picked up. In this case, she said, the volunteer will phone the home and, if needed, they will call the nearest listed relative to come and check on the individual.

For Struchtemeyer, this service is an important aid our society provides to those who need assistance. Because service is provided regardless of the individual’s ability to pay, the cost of meals for those who pay and fundraisers such as “Big Wheels” are necessary to cover the cost of the meal and delivery.

“In retrospect I think when we paid for it I think we paid eight dollars a meal or something like that. The meal probably didn’t cost eight dollars, but of course it subsidized people who didn’t pay at all and that’s really important so that’s part of this fundraiser is to help subsidize folks who need services like meals on wheels but can’t quite afford to pay for them,” Struchtemeyer said. “It’s one of those things where we can judge a society by how it takes care of those who are least able to care for themselves and I think Meals On Wheels is one of those philanthropic efforts that seeks to take care of those who can’t always take care of themselves.”

By Emily Franke

Until Friday April 18, Columbia’s Meals On Wheels program is taking orders for their annual “Big Wheels” fundraiser. This fundraiser, which raises around $20,000 each year, offers gourmet boxed lunches prepared by Hospitality Management students at the University of Missouri. Orders will be delivered between April 21 and 25.