Nonprofit Spotlight: Meals on Wheels available for all ages

Farm Forum

Shari Phillips is director of the Aberdeen Area Senior Center.

The Aberdeen Area Senior Center serves senior citizens in and around Aberdeen. There is, however, a program sponsored by the organization that offers a service with no restrictions on age: the Meals on Wheels program. This unique program is sponsored by the Aberdeen Area Senior Center in conjunction with Avera St. Luke’s Nutrition and Food Services.

These special-diet noon meals are prepared at the hospital and home delivered Monday through Friday by volunteers within the city limits of Aberdeen. This program provides meals to individuals who are in need of a specialized diet, such as cardiac, diabetic, low sodium and low cholesterol, among others. Regular diet meals are also available.

This program is open to all Aberdeen residents regardless of age or economic status. Meals may be ordered for a variety of reasons. It could be short-term following a surgery or illness or it may be long-term, perhaps years. Clients who are disabled or use wheelchairs can benefit from receiving a hot meal each day, as do the elderly who may no longer be able to cook for themselves. With this daily meal, they can remain in their own homes. These specialized diets also help individuals maintain their health through proper nutrition. Aberdeen Area Senior Center staff coordinate volunteers, make timely contacts with recipients and keep necessary records.

Meals on Wheels is funded in a variety of ways. The Aberdeen Area Senior Center handles finances for the program with clients charged a modest daily fee, paid monthly. In addition, United Way of Northeastern South Dakota helps fund the program. Their support allows for the purchase of needed supplies and personnel to operate the program. Donations are vital. To keep costs as low as possible for the recipients, donations are needed to help defray the costs for some who otherwise may not be able to afford them.

Meals can be ordered through the Aberdeen Area Senior Center. Social workers at the hospital often arrange meals for patients when they return home. Other referrals may come from Department of Social Services or family members.

Meals on Wheels began in 1968 as part of the services offered by the Aberdeen Area Senior Center. It was designed to assist senior citizens by providing a nutritious, balanced meal five days a week. It has expanded to serve persons of all ages and focuses on special diet needs. In recent years, as many as 12,000 meals have been delivered in a single year.

There are two ways the community can help. Volunteers are a very important part of the program and are always in short supply. Volunteers can serve on a regular or substitute basis. Also, many of our recipients are on Social Security and fixed incomes. A special fund helps pay for half the cost of the meals for those who qualify.

Increased donations allows for more individuals to receive assistance. All gifts are tax deductible. If you can volunteer an occasional hour or would like to donate to the program, call 626-3330.