MEALS ON WHEELS — For over 35 years, Meals on Wheels South Florida has been serving meals to local seniors. Yearly, the organization provides 1.2 million meals and serves over 10,000 seniors across our community.
“Most people have heard of Meals on Wheels but they might not now of all the things we do. We’re most well-known for home delivered meals for homebound seniors who can’t get out and get the food they need. Pre-COVID-19 we had 32 senior dining sites where we offered a hot meal to over 1,000 seniors daily,” said Mark Adler, executive director of Meals on Wheels.
The foundation relies on nearly 500 dedicated community volunteers. Many of them are older volunteers and with the outbreak of COVID-19, a majority of them decided it was best to stay home in order to protect not only themselves, but also the seniors involved with the organization. And in this time of need, two local medical centers stepped in to help.
“We were short on volunteers and Belen Medical Centers and Cano Health Care Center both gave us a call and said what can they do to help. They had a fleet of drivers and vehicles to make-up where we were short on in volunteers. That was three months ago and they’re still here today helping us out to bridge that gap until the volunteers feel safe to come back out,” said Adler.
Thanks to the help of the medical centers and the volunteers who are still serving the foundation, seniors like Holiday Tasch can still receive her meals.
“I wouldn’t be able to survive without it, honestly. Every year they cut my food stamps down. Without Meals on Wheels I’d be up the creek,” said Tasch.
Meals on wheels not only provides meals to seniors like Holiday Tasch, they also have programs for pets and for kids.
"We have the meals for companion pets program, where we feed the pets of our homebound seniors. Our shopping program, where volunteers will go shopping for seniors who can’t quite navigate a grocery store. During the summer, we also have our summer break spot program, where we feed about 22,000 kids over the course of the summer. These kids rely on the school lunch program for what may be the only good meal they get and during the summer they're left with nothing. We started that about seven years ago and it’s grown every year,” said Adler.
To help fund all of these programs WSFL, a Scripps station, and the Scripps Howard Foundation donated $22,000 to Meals on Wheels South Florida. In the past few months, the organization has seen an increase of need for food across South Florida.
“The funding is going to go a long way to help for us to continue to feed the seniors that we’re feeding now. During the outbreak we increased our home delivered meal program by 400% and some of that funding was temporary. We’ve got a lot more people on the program, so every penny that we can get helps. That donation from you all is going to bridge a huge gap,” said Adler.
The organization delivers meals every day of the week. If you’re in need or if you want to volunteer you can head over to mowsoflo.org.
Plus, we are challenging our communities to step up and fight hunger among the most needy. If you’d like to contribute to our meals on wheels campaign head on over to wsfltv.com and click on the link on top of our homepage.