Meals on Wheels: delivering meals to seniors

NAMPA - Meal preparation begins early at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Nampa.

An assembly line, preparing meals by the dozens.

"We serve about 80 to 85 meals per day, Monday through Friday, and we do about 110 frozen meals for the weekends," said Sheri Ainsworth, with Saint Alphonsus.

Every meal through Nampa Meals on Wheels is meticulously planned so seniors get at minimum, a third of their recommended daily allowances, if not more.

"All of our hot meals contain a vegetable, a protein, a carbohydrate, and then in addition, they get a milk product, and we do soy milk if they need that and they get juice, a fruit and a dessert," said Nampa Meals on Wheels Coordinator Diane Johnson.

Once the meals are cooked, they're packaged up and a staff of 30 rotating volunteers like Bill Haynes are off to make afternoon deliveries.

"A lot of people only get one meal a day and this is it," he said.

Bill knows everyone by name, including Dorothea Deary.

She started getting meals delivered to her home five years ago, after her husband needed care.

Now, she does.

"Now, I'm down with a broken hip and I don't get around very well and it's nice not to have to go to the kitchen and cook," she said.

But Bill has her covered, like all the seniors he delivers to, because the house calls are more than just meat and potatoes.

They're about checking on friends and making sure everyone's okay.

"If we don't see anybody then we start hollering and check for their wellness and see how they are," he said.

Since it began in 1974, the program has grown to serve more than 34,500 meals to 274 participants last year.

But seniors like Dorothea will tell you no one on the recipient list is just a number.

"They always want to know how I am, what I'm doing and they all feel sorry from me when I'm sick!" she said.

Canyon County is also serviced by Caldwell Meals on Wheels.

They typically serve 50 to 55 meals on a daily basis: hot ones mid-week and cold ones on the weekend.

In 2012, 20 volunteers delivered more than 28,800 meals.

You can help out both programs by attending this year's Canyon County Festival of Trees.

You can see the trees starting Friday, November 29th at the Nampa Civic Center.

The Gala dinner is Tuesday, December 3rd at the Civic Center.

Proceeds from tree sales go to both Meals on Wheels programs.

To learn more about the event or to get Gala tickets, check out: