“Breaking Bread” With Others: the Most Generous Gift

Meals on Wheels, Lewes-Rehoboth – a division of Meals on Wheels Delaware is an operation filled with optimism, gratitude and precision. 

Every day, for those who may not be familiar with Meals on Wheels’ mission, more than 300 compromised people in the zip codes of 19958 and 19971 (Lewes and Rehoboth, respectively) are provided a midday meal, sometimes the only true meal of their day. 

Established in 1970 elsewhere, the idea to help out homebound seniors and disabled persons with everyone’s basic need – nutrition came to fruition. The concept took off quickly, and chapters across the US now serve an estimated 2.4 million people each year, with that number growing as we age. 

Of course, there is a staff at each affiliate that oversees the operations, the volunteers, the logistics such as the route assignments, etc. However, the heartbeat of the daily duties of delivering a meal is the responsibility of volunteers who make sure it gets done with a personal touch. 

The promise of personal contact can be the highlight of anyone’s day. You see, it’s not just the meal, which of course is important, but there is so much more to it with Meals on Wheels. Conversation, friendships, daily help and other essential needs are often addressed. 

First, the meals are made methodically by experienced chefs and volunteers. Then, the meals are organized and assigned to volunteers for particular routes. Meals on Wheels Lewes-Rehoboth has 17 daily routes. 

A volunteer, assigned to a specific route then carefully delivers the nutritious and balanced meal to the person who is homebound. Conversations are inevitable, and many volunteers end up forming friendships that extend to helping the client with many other logistics, such as appointment transportation, light housework or repairs and more. 

Volunteers are the heart of the organization

Volunteer opportunities abound with Meals on Wheels Lewes-Rehoboth. Mostly, the organization seeks volunteers to deliver meals on specific routes on a given day of the week. There are “permanent” drivers that commit to that schedule, but there is forever the need for substitute drivers who have the flexibility and willingness to jump in and help out when the assigned driver has other obligations and cannot be present.  

To make it as pleasant as possible for the client, the routes are consistent, which establishes the trust the clients want. To go from independence to some level of dependency, especially where nutrition is concerned, a conversation can be just as important as the meal itself. Empathy and experience are paramount. 

Meals on Wheels Delaware was initially funded in part through the Delaware Division of Aging in 1973 during the organization’s infancy. That department is now Delaware Aging and Disability Resource Center. But the organization, like most of them now rely on private fundraising efforts.  

Meals on Wheels has expanded exponentially to include others rather than the archaic phrase (pardon the pun) “elderly.” It now includes people with disabilities – a big step in recognizing the needs of other compromised individuals. 

Today, Meals on Wheels Lewes-Rehoboth relies primarily on volunteerism and of course, fundraisers. This month for example, the annual Jack O’Halloran bike ride donated its proceeds to benefit the organization. There are galas, fundraisers and awareness campaigns that can help spread the generosity of this community. 

Even though our local Meals on Wheels organization may appear successful financially on paper, numbers do not replace the price of companionship and compassion. 

Any one of us might one day find ourselves surprisingly in a position like so many of this organization’s clients.  

There is no substitute for the importance of meals and the companionship any meal offers to a person in need. To find out more, and to consider becoming a volunteer, you may reach Meals on Wheels Lewes-Rehoboth by phone,  (302) 645-7449 or info@mealsonwheels-lr.org 

Pics from the website: Meals on Wheels Lewes/Rehoboth

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