Meals on Wheels recipients from all over Chautauqua County will have special emergency meals on hand this winter, thanks to Bemus Point United Methodist Church and Christ First United Methodist Church.
Meals on Wheels in Jamestown and Dunkirk-Fredonia, and the Sinclairville 76ers meal program, have delivered special emergency blizzard boxes to senior citizens in each of their areas, in anticipation of when Meals on Wheels may not be able to deliver this winter because of poor weather conditions. Meals on Wheels prepares each winter by supplying each client with at least one day's worth of non-perishable meals, so the client is prepared in case the organization can't deliver because of poor weather.
This year is the third year members of Christ First United Methodist Church have assembled the emergency boxes, with members of Bemus Point United Methodist Church joining in for the first time this year. The boxes contain non-perishable food and drink items which don't rely on refrigeration to keep safe for use.
Members of Christ First United Methodist Church and Bemus Point United Methodist Church have assembled hundreds of emergency meal Blizzard Boxes for area seniors served by Meals on Wheels programs in Chautauqua County. Barrie Yochim, Jamestown Meals on Wheels executive director, left, takes a look at the contents of the boxes with Charles Hodges, Christ First United Methodist Church coordinator of mission and outreach. This year is the third year Meals on Wheels and its meal recipients have benefitted from the church effort.
"The effort of the individuals from each of the churches is overwhelming," said Barrie Yochim, executive director of Jamestown Meals on Wheels. "The quantity of food that was brought together for each of the emergency boxes greatly exceeds what has been distributed in the past. These blizzard boxes contain enough food for at least four meals for each Meals on Wheels recipient in Chautauqua County."
Eight hundred blizzard boxes were assembled by the churches to cover distribution of the boxes to all current Meals on Wheels program recipients, plus plan for new meal recipients who come onto the programs this winter. The blizzard boxes were assembled by members at each of the churches in November. Much of the food for the emergency boxes was purchased with assistance from Jamestown's Farm Fresh Foods.
"This project fits well with the church's mission to reach out in Jesus' name to those in need within our community," said Charlie Hodges, coordinator of mission and outreach at both churches. "Meals on Wheels along with the Office For the Aging are wonderful agencies serving the needs of some of our most vulnerable neighbors. We are privileged to be able to help them in this way."
"Meals on Wheels thinks long and hard before we ever have to close due to the weather. We do look out for the safety of our delivery drivers and volunteers, so when the weather is bad enough, we will close so that everyone is safe," Yochim said. "Part of that safety is making sure our meal recipients have their emergency meal boxes on hand before the bad weather strikes."
Meals on Wheels in Jamestown averages one closure per year, Yochim said. Meals on Wheels didn't have to close each of the last two winters because there was never any threat of poor weather conditions.
"But we can't plan ahead that there won't be any meal cancellations," Yochim said. "We've had years where we've had to close as many as four days due to the weather."
Yochim said that Jamestown Meals on Wheels has had to plan for supplying emergency meals to more senior citizens than last year - more local senior citizens are receiving daily delivery of Meals on Wheels. Senior citizens can receive a heatable or a cold sandwich meal each day, or both, as needed. Meals on Wheels also provides frozen meals to be used on weekends, in some cases.
The suggested cost for home delivery of one heatable meal and one cold meal is $8 per day. For either a heatable or cold meal, the suggested cost is $4.50 per day.
If an individual 60 years old or older can't pay for meals, or can pay only a small amount, the individual can still get meals. The Chautauqua County Office For the Aging provides Meals on Wheels funding for meals for individuals age 60 and older, if they qualify for the program.
Meals on Wheels also receives funding from United Way of Southern Chautauqua County and other individual contributors, which helps offset the meal cost for individuals who can't pay the full amount.
Meals on Wheels can keep its delivery costs low because it utilizes many volunteers who help deliver meals each day. Volunteer delivery routes, called satellite routes, are delivered in Jamestown, Lakewood, Falconer, Celoron and Fluvanna each day. Volunteers deliver more than 80 meals each day for Meals on Wheels. Some Meals on Wheels volunteers are from the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program.
"It's these volunteers we look out for, when we are making the decision whether to close,' Yochim said. "These individuals are valuable to us, and we want to make sure they are as safe as possible."
WCA Hospital prepares meals for Meals on Wheels recipients in southern Chautauqua County from the hospital's Jones Memorial Health Center kitchen.
Any Chautauqua County senior citizen can receive home meal delivery, if the individual qualifies. Meals on Wheels of the Jamestown Area delivers to the southern half of Chautauqua County.
Sinclairville 76ers provides home-delivered meals to participants in the towns of Charlotte, Cherry Creek, Gerry and Ellington, and in Cassadaga, Stockton and Lily Dale. Dunkirk-Fredonia Meals on Wheels provides home-delivered meals to participants along the Lake Erie lakeshore from Brocton to Silver Creek, including the towns of Hanover and Villenova, and in Forestville.
For more information about Meals on Wheels, call 488-9119.