SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Meals on Wheels volunteers deliver frozen meals to area-seniors all year, but weekly check-ins are even more valuable as summer starts to heat up.
Volunteers at the South Side Senior Center begin the morning packing hundreds of meals.
“About 365, or something like that,” guesses one volunteer.
The week’s worth of frozen meals combat the rising number of nearly 10 million under-nourished senior citizens nation-wide.
“Sometimes [the seniors] don’t have family, they don’t have friends, some of them kind of keep to themselves,” said Senior Center Administrator Kendell Prall. She says more people are being fed thanks to weekly frozen delivery program Meals on Wheels.
Dan Hayden and his wife have delivered meals for three years, sighting the work as rewarding and a continuation of the community service Hayden completed as a mail carrier for nearly 40 years.
The couple even spent their 50th wedding anniversary delivering meals this week.
The process is simple– pack, seal and load the meals before dropping them off and sticking around for a quick chat.
“They’re all friends to me, I’ve done this route long enough that I know them all,” explained Hayden. “You can tell when things are different.”
Those short conversations are now even more valuable as the sweltering summer kicks into high gear.
“If [seniors] say ‘hey my A/C unit went out on Wednesday, I’m burning up’ we’ll send out one or two box fans just to help them until we can get a solution,” said Prall.
The center relies on fan donations in the summer, and cash gifts year round to keep Meals on Wheels running smoothly.
“Some of the places we go are pretty bad, some of them are real good, but everybody is in need of meals,” said Hayden.
Prall believes the program serves as a reminder for neighbors to check on the elderly around them as temperatures continue to rise.