On a recent Tuesday afternoon in the Whitingham Municipal Center in Jacksonville, more than forty local seniors were finishing up their desserts from a congregate meal, while a dozen or so more stopped in to pick up a meal-to-go. The all-volunteer kitchen staff was cleaning up, both from these meals they had cooked, and from the forty additional meals they had organized and sent out for delivery to seniors around the Deerfield Valley who are unable to leave their homes or prepare meals for themselves.
March 2022 marks fifty years since Meals on Wheels, the nation’s premier nutrition program for seniors, was funded. And for Vermont’s aging population, it has become a lifeline for many.
“We cover an enormous area out of this kitchen,” said Terrie Dumaine, who organizes Deerfield Valley Senior Meals. “Our drivers are spread out all over – Readsboro, Searsburg, Hartwellville, Dover, Wilmington, Whitingham, and Halifax.”
In fact, the area served by these intrepid volunteers and staff covers one of the largest geographic spreads of any Meals on Wheels operation in southern Vermont. Each month, over 400 meals are prepared by the group and delivered by a faithful fleet of volunteers to area residents who can’t leave their homes.
“This operation runs with 16 incredible volunteers, including our ‘back-ups’, and through public support.” said Dumaine.
“It’s based on nutritional needs., but there is also the social aspect of having a friendly face come to the door,” says Wendi Germain, the Nutrition & Wellness Director of Senior Solutions, which provides substantial support to the program. “For many, these drivers may be the only face they see all week. We so appreciate these volunteers. I can not overemphasize how critical it is to have public support for these programs, through both volunteerism and donations.” Wendi noted that Meals on Wheels operations across Vermont rely heavily on public donations to keep them running.
Those wishing to volunteer drive time should contact Terrie Dumaine at 802-368-7567. Donations in honor of the 50thAnniversary of Meals on Wheels may be made directly to Senior Solutions, earmarked for the Deerfield Valley Meals on Wheels, by sending them a check to 38 Pleasant Street, Springfield VT 05156 or by donating directly on the website at https://www.seniorsolutionsvt.org.