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Meals on Wheels provides important service throughout the year for local senior citizens

Photos courtesy of the Arc of Genesee Orleans: Volunteer Bob Burtwell of Lyndonville carries meals to the door of a 98-year-old Meals on Wheels recipient in Albion.

Posted 21 December 2018 at 7:06 pm

Press Release, Arc of Genesee Orleans

Vicki Havholm, Arc’s Meals on Wheels director, shows Arc employee Leah Knab emergency dinner kits that were distributed to seniors for use if a snowstorm prevents meal delivery.

ALBION – There is nothing “virtual” about hunger. Volunteers and staff at the Meals on Wheels program in Orleans County know that nothing solves hunger among seniors like an in-person visit with a hot meal. To visit the elderly isolated by many country miles during the holidays, and sometimes snowy roads, shows the dedication these volunteers offer.

Bob Burtwell of Lyndonville is one of six volunteers who picks up coolers of hot food from the Arc of Genesee Orleans’ Meals on Wheels headquarters in Albion several days a week. Driving his own car, he stops at the homes of local seniors who are unable to get groceries or cook for themselves.

Burtwell is nothing short of a lifeline to these community members, who may also have medical problems. After passing background checks, volunteer drivers are trained to provide daily safety and wellness checks for seniors, especially those living alone. If seniors are having unusual difficulties, the volunteer will seek help. The program welcomes new volunteers.

After volunteering for over a year, Burtwell has gotten to know the seniors on his routes. After a knock at the door, he is greeted warmly by a 98 year-old woman who places her meals directly on her walker. When asked, she says she’s doing well and offers wishes for a happy holiday.

At another home, a man in his 60s recovering from an illness asks Burtwell to come in. Burtwell is asked to place the meals directly in the refrigerator for later.

This year, the Orleans Meals on Wheels program provided 31,857 meals by November, similar to previous years. The program is funded by the Orleans Office for the Aging, the United Way of Orleans County, and the Arc of Genesee Orleans. The program provides a hot noon meal and a cold bagged supper Monday through Friday, as well as freezer meals for weekends and holidays if desired.

The program operates 10 routes across Orleans County, and serves meals at its dining sites at Academy Street in Albion and in Kendall. Senior citizens with health issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease may find it especially difficult to obtain and/or prepare food that meets their dietary restrictions.

Volunteer Mike Groden leaves the Meals on Wheels headquarters in Albion with hot food for the Kendall community dining site.

The program offers both no salt added and reduced sugar meal options. Nutritional counseling is provided by the registered dietician from the Orleans Office for the Aging at no charge to seniors, and makes referrals to appropriate service agencies.

The elderly face a variety of challenges in meeting their nutritional needs. Factors include lack of transportation to grocery shopping or dining, disabilities, dental/chewing problems, memory loss, reduced appetite, inability to prepare food, dependence on junk foods, and income. Despite the challenges, it is generally preferable for individuals over age 60 to continue living independently in their own homes.

For information about receiving Meals on Wheels in Orleans County, or to volunteer, contact the Arc at (585) 589-7817 or vhavholm@arcoforleans.org. Donations may be sent to Arc of Genesee Orleans, 64 Walnut St., Batavia, NY 14020 or through www.arcgo.org/ at the “donate” tab.

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