This holiday season is extra special for Pat Hannah and her family. She might not be here to celebrate this year if it wasn’t for the quick thinking of a Meals on Wheels volunteer last November.
“I got a call from Meals on Wheels that my sister Pat did not answer her door when the volunteer arrived to drop off her meal,” explains Mona Sutton, owner of the Omelette and Waffle Shop. “I went to check on her, and she was unresponsive. She had fallen, hit her head, and was rushed to the hospital by paramedics. Pat had surgery for a heart issue but survived because Meals on Wheels alerted me to check on her.”
“Meals on Wheels saved my life,” states Hannah, who is a widow of a Vietnam veteran. She explains how she always opens her door at 10 a.m. and waits for her food delivery. The volunteers get to know the people they deliver meals to and their habits. Sometimes the volunteers are the only people the seniors might see in a day.
There is hidden hunger amongst the aging population. Circumstances contributing to this issue include a decline in health, no longer driving, lack of family in the area, or not wanting to bother the family even if they have that support. It is not uncommon for a Meals on Wheels client to have vision issues, financial barriers, and limited technology skills to be able to order food online.
“We lived next to a woman in San Pedro who always looked nice and had a lovely home. We were friendly with her and waved and smiled,” shares Susan McKenna, the newly elected board president of San Pedro Meals on Wheels. “One day, the paramedics were called, and they took her to the hospital. It was then we learned she only had scraps of food, some of it rotten, in her house. We felt so bad and only wish we would have known there was a problem. Now she lives in a nursing home. I had been volunteering with Meals on Wheels for years, but after this happened with our neighbor, I wanted to be more involved.”
McKenna is grateful to the 160 volunteers at San Pedro Meals on Wheels who are on the frontline serving our community’s senior citizens, many of whom are homebound. McKenna hopes to expand and improve the services this year with the help of the many volunteers and donors. If enough funds are raised, Meals on Wheels would like to provide a weekend food package to their clients since they do not deliver food over the weekend. Another goal is to have more eco-friendly packaging and volunteer bakers to expand on the bread items they deliver.
San Pedro Meals on Wheels delivers approximately 100 meals daily Monday through Friday in San Pedro and Wilmington. Each delivery costs the client $7.50 and consists of two meals, one hot and a sandwich that can be eaten for dinner. They also provide meals at no cost to people in financial need and rely 100 percent on donations to not charge any fees. While Meals on Wheels has not raised their prices in years, with the rising cost of food, they may have to increase the price slightly unless they can offset the costs by donations. Meals on Wheels also delivers little gifts to their clients, especially during the holidays when groups like The Garden Club and Scouts donate them.
“I just received a beautiful ornament; it is hanging on my tree. I love the food and all the sweet people who volunteer at Meals on Wheels,” says Hannah. “It is the most fabulous organization.”
To donate, volunteer, or learn more about Meals on Wheels, call (310) 832-7335 or visit sanpedromealsonwheels.org. Volunteers, drivers, and bakers are needed. People who can work on short-term projects with policy or HR experience are also needed. In addition to cash donations, Meals on Wheels would appreciate donations of canned vegetables (especially tomatoes, garbanzo beans, and mushrooms), beans, chicken broth, dry pasta, and fresh vegetables to help offset food costs. spt