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

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid