News / USA

Meals on Wheels Delivers Food, Companionship

Elderly and disabled receive free, nutritious lunches

The staff at  Fitz Vogt Catering makes 1,000 meals a day to be delivered to home-bound seniors in central Vermont.
The staff at Fitz Vogt Catering makes 1,000 meals a day to be delivered to home-bound seniors in central Vermont.

Multimedia

Audio
Nina Keck

Many elderly and disabled Americans are isolated by frailty, illness and at this time of year, in the northern states, extreme cold weather. Many also suffer from malnutrition. A non-profit program called Meals on Wheels provides and delivers more than one million meals a day to clients across the United States. For the people who make and deliver those meals, it's a vital service that gives both ways.

Bustling kitchen

The commercial kitchen at Fitz Vogt Catering in Rutland, Vermont, is a blur of midmorning activity. A chef is baking 2,000 strips of chicken breast while another employee stirs an oversized pot of stuffing. It's all for the Meals on Wheels program.

"Everything is made from scratch here. They cut up the chicken and bread it by hand," says Penny Jones, the administrative coordinator at Meals on Wheels, adding that the kitchen typically prepares about 1,000 meals a day. "They start here at five-thirty in the morning and all the meals are out the door by eleven a.m."

The meals are delivered to people all across central Vermont - covering a 160-kilometer radius.

"It's really important. If you can imagine when you're hungry for lunch and waiting for the person to bring your food," says Jones. "And in the winter, not knowing if they'll be able to get to you or not."

Maryterese Briggs delivers meals - and conversation - to clients three days a week.
Maryterese Briggs delivers meals - and conversation - to clients three days a week.

Meals to go

It takes a large group of paid and volunteer drivers to make sure the food does get through. People like Maryterese Briggs. She's a dietary aide for Meals on Wheels and three days a week, she loads up her 20-year-old Volvo and hits the road.

"I like it, I like the people," she says. "Just to see the smile sometimes on the client's faces when you walk in. Sometimes you're the only person they see all day. It just makes you feel good."

Briggs pulls up to a tired looking house to make her first delivery. A water pipe hisses loudly just inside the front door. The door is unlocked. Briggs opens it and bounds up a small flight of stairs to the kitchen where an older gentleman sits waiting. He smiles and gets up slowly to greet her. They exchange a few words and then she's off again to her next stop.

Briggs says sometimes there are tears on the job. "Yes, yes. There's one stop we're going on today and it's just the wife. The husband passed away last Friday. I think it makes you more aware of your own mortality, you know, some day this is going to be me, someday this is going to be you."

Not just lunch

Briggs turns a corner to head to Leona Kish's house. Kish lost her husband about a year ago. She is a tiny woman, dressed in a bright red sweater. Meals on Wheels provides her with lunch three days a week.

"I love cooking, but now that I'm alone, I don't cook as much," says Kish. "And with my daughter - she wanted me to get Meals on Wheels to make sure I get all the vitamins and benefits I need. But really I enjoy mostly the people coming. I love people and I love to sit down and visit with them. But many of my friends have gone. My little pet here, Rudy, he's such a good companion for me."

She offers Briggs homemade rum balls and confides that they're made with an old family recipe and were favorites of her late husband. Then she grows quiet for a moment.

"This used to be my husband's chair and now I occupy this so I can look out the window a little bit and see something," she says. "Listen, I wish all of you a happy new year with the best of health to everybody."

Briggs walks back to her car smiling and brushing off a few stray cookie crumbs. Few jobs, she says, can make you feel so appreciated - and so thankful.

You May Like

Sunni-Shi’ite Divide Threatens Middle East Stability

Analysts say ancient dispute that traces back to Islamic Revolution is fueling modern day unrest More

Shifting Demographics Lie Beneath Racial Tensions in Ferguson

As Missouri suburb morphed from majority white to majority black, observers say power structure remained static More

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Restriction is toughest since Soviet era, though critics reject move as patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid