Meals on Wheels provides nourishment, safety checks

by Dan Holland

Addressing food insecurity in the community is one of the goals of the all-volunteer, non-profit Brecksville and Broadview Heights Meals on Wheels program, which is available to both seniors and convalescents who are not able to prepare meals or shop for food. The program was founded locally in 1990.

The program, which is facilitated by the Human Services Departments in Brecksville and Broadview Heights, relies on dozens of volunteer drivers who deliver two meals to recipients each morning Monday through Friday. Approximately 20-30 families/individuals take advantage of the program in Brecksville, with an additional 10-15 recipients in Broadview Heights.

The meals are prepared in advance by Coyne Catering, who delivers them each morning to the Brecksville Human Services Department for distribution, according to department director Steve Paciorek, who serves as president of the Meals on Wheels program locally.

“I think the Meals on Wheels program is so valuable because it not only provides two nutritious meals to our most vulnerable residents, but it also provides a daily in person visit from one of our wonderful volunteers,” said Broadview Heights Human Services Director Kathy Rush-Parsson. “If one of the meal recipients needs something, or is having a problem or issue, the volunteer can let the senior center staff know about it, and we can reach out to offer help and assistance.”

The program also provides a safety check, Paciorek said.

“We don’t just drop off the food at the door and leave,” he said. “The drivers knock on the door and they don’t leave until they know that the person is okay. There have been times when we had to call the emergency squad because someone was in trouble.”

The initial cost for the program, which provides one cold meal and one hot meal each day, is $70 per person for the first two weeks. Afterward, the recipient is charged $35 per person per week, which is collected by cash or check by the driver on Monday mornings. Individuals can subscribe to the service indefinitely or for a specified length of time, with a two-week minimum required to begin.

The program provides a needed service while spurring volunteerism in the community, said Paciorek, “It strengthens our social capital in the community and strengthens our partnership with the surrounding communities,” he said. “It is one extra thing we do that puts an exclamation point on volunteerism in our area; people wanting to reach out and help their fellow residents.”

Paciorek stressed that the program is always looking for additional drivers and helpers.

In addition to the Meals on Wheels program, the holiday-season Yuletide Hunger program, which is entering its 41st year of service, provides food to low-income families in Brecksville, Broadview Heights, Independence and Seven Hills. Although much of the food is collected through organized food drives, food and monetary donations can be dropped off by businesses or individuals at the Brecksville Human Services Department.

Residents interested in receiving the service or wishing to volunteer can call 440-526-2499 in Brecksville or 440-526-4074 in Broadview Heights. ∞