Providing Nutritious Meals

Meals on Wheels shows it cares by making deliveries for 52 years

A good morning rush doesn’t require a hot cup of coffee — just a kitchen full of volunteers and staff at Meals on Wheels, where 1,000 free meals are made and delivered every week.

Meals on Wheels of Syracuse is a not-for-profit agency that provides nutritious meals to the homebound, including seniors, people with disabilities, nutritionally at risk individuals and people recovering from accident or illnesses.

Meals on Wheels has been providing service locally for more than 52 years. Most recipients are in their mid-70s. Mason Kaufman, executive director for 16 years, has seen a variety of clients. “Last year one of oldest recipients was 98 years old but awhile back we had someone on the South Side that was 102 years old.”

Delivery volunteers arrive to Meals on Wheels between 10:30 a.m. and 11 a.m., when the food is packed into the blue cold cooler and a red warm cooler.

“We have two lines of volunteers in the kitchen, one for the hot line and cold line,” said Jennifer Stone, food service director. “Each person has a designated job and they have to also be prepping food for the next day in-between this rush.”

Fridays are extra busy because 400 meals are made that day to cover the weekend. Stone has recipes that she has collected over the years. Residents’ favorite: anything Italian.

Each meal costs around $10.50 to produce for each resident. The meal includes a cold plate and a hot plate.

Keeping up with ways to raise money for the organization is the job of Katherine N. Lowe, the director of development and community relations. “Raising enough funds to cover the gap between the amount that we are reimbursed for meals and the actual cost, which is $7.50 versus the $10.50 per client per day, is the hardest thing to keep up with,” she said. “But we raise money through mail campaigns, special events, and individual donors.”

Volunteers like Ruth Brown, 75, who has been a delivery volunteer for 12 years, said senior hunger needs more attention.

“There is a need for this national issue to get disseminated for people to know it exists,” Brown said.

“Because there are a lot of our seniors who are suffering from hunger because nobody cares to pay attention to their needs.”