It’s a cool Friday morning in Leadville, and while the rest of Huck Finn Park is eerily quiet, the Lake County Senior Center is a beehive of activity. After all, it’s a Meals on Wheels day!
Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, a dozen volunteers meet at the senior citizen center to prepare hot meals under the direction of Cook Loretta Barela. On the day Leadville Today rode along, the menu consisted of fish (it was Lent) along with some rice and corn. This delivery day, since Easter was just a couple of days away, the recipients also got a colored egg and a few candies from the Easter Bunny.
The Leadville Meals on Wheels team is a well-oiled machine, creating two assembly lines to prepare the more than 30 meals that get cooked, packed, and delivered three times a week. And while the hairnets and rubber gloves might appear a bit clumsy, they didn’t seem to get in the way of the lively chatter exchanged among the helpers.
While many of the volunteers in similar programs across the country are high school students, in Leadville the task falls to other senior citizens, those who are able-bodied and able to drive.
Meals on Wheels delivers food to individuals at home who are unable to purchase or prepare their own meals. Established in 1974, the program supports more than 5,000 community-based senior nutrition organizations across the country. By providing funding, leadership, education and advocacy support, Meals on Wheels America empowers its local member programs to provide services to their communities. In Leadville, this vital senior program is sponsored – and funded – by Area Agency on Aging.
Research shows that home-delivered meal programs significantly improve diet quality, increase nutrient intakes, reduce food insecurity and improve quality-of-life among the recipients. The programs also reduce government expenditures by reducing the need of recipients to use hospitals, nursing homes or other expensive community-based services.
Simply put, the program provides hot meals three times a week to homebound seniors and other “shut-ins” in the area, who would otherwise go hungry. Their efforts are appreciated in many ways by the recipients, often times being the catalyst for allowing them to continue to live in their homes independently and with dignity. And for those senior citizens who have family in Leadville, this food program supports their choice to age in place, near their children and grandchildren.
Meals on Wheels has been recruiting local volunteers to assist. You don’t have to commit for all three days and many times having back-up delivery people, allows the regular runners the opportunity to take a day off when needed.
If you are interested please contact the Lake County Senior Citizen Center at 719-486-1774.
In other news from the Lake County Senior Citizen Center, the following is the official newsletter from Leadville’s Ruth Purkat who also serves as the local Area Agency on Aging representative.