Meals on Wheels continues to deliver

WC program beginning second half-century of service

— submitted photo Meals on Wheels board members and volunteer drivers were honored last fall at a special brunch held at Trinity Lutheran Church. Among those honored were, front row from the left, Carolyn Day, Barb Law, Kathy Theobald, Betty Weber-Maxted, Donna McCollough, Tom McLaughlin, board member and Ruth Poland, board member back row, Carol Lemon, Joann Eubanks, Al and Joan Haberman, Marilyn Grubbe and Dave HIlton.

A Webster City program that has been around for 50 years is still delivering on its original premise — to provide a hot, nutritious meal for seniors.

Meals on Wheels was started in Webster City in 1971 when Rev. Ray Roden, then the pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church, brought together a group of citizens to talk about establishing the program. Those original volunteers were Jack Bateman, Gary Edwards, Kathleen Swon, Barbara Heweitt, Reba Seering, Dan Broyles, Betty Wachowick, Melba Kennedy, Harriet Isaacson and Lucille Breitenkamp. Part of those early discussions was how to fund the operation. The group decided not seek out government funding for their project, but instead would look to the community for financial help.

“Meals on Wheels has no connection with local, state or federal agencies or tax-funded agencies of any kind,” said Bob Erickson, a longtime board member of the Meals on Wheels program.

Nationwide, the Meals on Wheels program was founded as a solution to what the organizers saw as three big threats to seniors — inadequate nutrition, isolation and safety. The volunteer drivers delivered much more than a hot meal. They also provided a safety check, a friendly face and conversation that allows countless people all across the nation to remain in their own homes. Officials said that the cost of providing the meals to seniors on an annual basis is less than what it costs to spend 10 days in a nursing home.

Meals are currently prepared at Southfield Wellness Community. Volunteer drivers cover the three delivery routes in Webster City five days a week, including holidays. There are 22 regular drivers and 19 substitutes. The meals are ready for delivery at about 11 a.m. each day, and the routes take about an hour to complete, officials said.

— submitted photo Board members and volunteer drivers for the Webster City Meals on Wheels gathered in September for a special recognition brunch held at Trinity Lutheran Church. Pictured are, front front row from the left, Julie Tharp, volunteer coordinator, Reid Giovanine, board member, Joan VanDeer, board member, and Diane Stribe; back row, Kristi Nelson, Jim Kepler, Amy Pigsley, board member, Rich Stribe and Judy McLaughlin, board member.

“‘Voluntary’ is the key word for our program,” Erickson said. “Our source of income is voluntary contributions from individuals, businesses, charitable, social, fraternal and service organizations. All meals are delivered by voluntary drivers who not only deliver the meal but offer a check-in with the recipient.”

Individuals who would be interested in helping to deliver the meals in Webster City are asked to call Julie Tharp, volunteer coordinator, at (515) 835-2188.

He said Hamilton County Public Health handles the application process.

According to Kathy Josten, treasurer, 590 meals were delivered in December 2021, the highest number since June 2020. The cost to the program for the meals is $5 and participants are invoiced on a sliding scale from $5 down to no charge, based on their ability to pay. In recent years, officials said the program has run a deficit of about $20,000 in covering the costs of providing the meals.

Officials said there are several ways to help support the Meals on Wheels program.. To make a personal donation, checks can be sent to Meals on Wheels, PO Box 45, Webster City, IA 50595. Donations can also be accepted in the form of a memorial for a friend or loved one, as a bequest in a will, or through donations from local service clubs.

Erickson said all donations to the program are tax deductible.


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