March is the official month for Meals on Wheels (MOW), whose mission is to empower local community programs to improve the health and quality of life of the seniors they serve so that no one is left hungry or isolated. In Fallon, seniors have received hot meals since 1973. The funding for the local Meals on Wheels nutrition program, operated at William N. Pennington (WNP) Life Center, comes from a combination of federal, state, local programs as well as private dollars, including donations. The program is governed by the Nevada State Aging and Disability Division, however there is a limit for their budget, so they use general funds to fill in the holes that the budget does not quite cover.
MOW provides meals and wellness checks to seniors over the age of 60 with medical conditions that prevent them from being able to leave their homes. The drivers of the trucks make a real connection with the people on their routes, going in to check on them and giving them a way to socialize outside of their family. The program has roughly four drivers who start their routes at 9:15 am and typically do not get back until 1:00 pm. Monday through Friday, they drop off hot meals that are kept at the appropriate temperature in hot/cold boxes in their trucks. And on the weekends, they deliver frozen meals for the recipients to heat up at home. Before COVID-19, MOW provided 50,000 meals annually, but this past year has increased that number to over 63,000. Unfortunately, the drivers have not been able to provide their usual visit time with these folks due to CDC restrictions. They do make sure that the seniors answer the door and receive their meal before moving on to the next stop. For those who do not have an easy time getting up to answer the door, the drivers do enter the homes with the appropriate personal protective equipment on. This past year has been especially hard on the drivers due to the losses they faced. Because of their connection to the community, MOW also gave approximately 50 vaccinations to seniors in their program.
March for Meals is especially crucial to MOW this year. WNP is hopeful that they can start outside events again soon, including the Bingo and exercise programs for seniors. The seniors and all staff must be vaccinated to attend. For the time being though, the program staff sent out informational packets for their Champion week (final week of March), that will include events held over Zoom with more information on MOW and how to receive their newsletter and informational brochure. Also included was an optional donation sheet. The MOW website recently added a debit card option to make it easier to donate. The donations can be any dollar amount, and can be a one-time, a weekly, a monthly, or a yearly contribution. People can also choose different ways their donation can be accepted, including but not limiting to: honorary donations- a donation sent in someone’s name to honor them, memorial- donations made in memory of a passed loved one, planned- overall financial, tax, estate planning, and bequest- final wishes, establishment of personal legacy. All donations stay local for the continued future of the nutritional program in Fallon.