Meals on Wheels represents more than the vitally important work of delivering hot food to people in need. It is also a chance to serve a little hope, a little company and a reminder that the organization’s clients have not been forgotten – especially by the volunteers who are the agency’s hands and feet.
The critical mission of Meals on Wheels received a lift Wednesday when organization representatives and others broke ground on a new facility at 7550 Outlook Drive. It marks a significant step for the privately funded charity, which, according to our story Thursday, raised $700,000 over the course of a year toward a new, more strategically located building.
The organization, which receives no government funds or assistance from the local United Way, relied on approximately 300 volunteers to deliver almost 50,00 lunches to homebound clients last year. And the need continues to grow, according to agency officials, who said the number of lunches grew by 7,500 from 2017 to 2018.
The move makes sense on a number of levels. Previously, the organization had been headquartered in a downtown building at 219 SW Seventh Ave., a location next to the bus station. The place had been donated by a volunteer driver and board member rent-free for 30 years, but that changed a few years ago. The combination of paying rent and a less-than-ideal location prompted the agency to examine its options.
“When it was free, we didn’t gripe (about the neighborhood) because it was free, but now that we’re paying rent, we thought, let’s see what else is out there,” Meals on Wheels executive director Susie Akers said in our story.
The most appealing option became moving closer to Baptist St. Anthony Hospital and Northwest Texas Hospital where meals are prepared. They paid cash for the land and then began raising funds to handle construction costs for the new building. A&S General Contractors is handling the job.
It is difficult to overemphasize the important work Meals on Wheels volunteers do beyond delivering a meal. They also spend time getting to know clients and regularly check on their health and well-being.
“This is a very, very vulnerable population,” Akers said in our story. “A lot of times, our volunteers are the only people they see. That critical, daily, safety check is very important.”
Meals on Wheels clients are charged $2.50 for each lunch, which is the same price the organization is charged by the hospitals, according to our story. However, more than 20 percent of the agency’s clients are unable to pay for the meal, which typically includes a protein, starch, vegetable, bread, dessert and milk. Those who can’t afford to pay are not charged.
For people with health and mobility challenges who might live alone, a daily visit from a Meals on Wheels volunteer often represents a high point in their day. Many times, the few moments of personal interaction are just as important as the meal.
The agency hopes to be moved into its new building by November. We’re thankful for the daily difference Meals on Wheels makes in the community and grateful for the scores of volunteers who feel a sense of calling to be a part its mission to feed their neighbors.