Helen Godwin used to enjoy cooking, especially sweets, but through the years she hasn’t been able to cook as much.
Eventually, she learned about the Meals on Wheels program operated by the Wayne Action Group for Economic Solvency, WAGES, and signed up to start receiving meals at home.
Godwin, who lives on Belfast Road, is one of nearly 350 area residents who regularly received meals through the program, which has decreased in the number of volunteers needed for the program.
“My granddaughter told me about Meals on Wheels, so I gave them a call,” Godwin said.
WAGES currently has anywhere from 75 to 80 volunteers to deliver meals to people in Wayne County, said Kristin Alexander, WAGES director of senior nutrition programs.
There are eight routes for the hot meal deliveries, and 17 routes for frozen meals, Alexander said.
“There are probably 20 routes we need volunteers for daily,” she said. “But I think to be successful, we need 40 more volunteers to cover each day of the week.”
Dwain Brown, who has been volunteering for three years, enjoys visiting people and helping make sure they receive a nutritious meal.
“Since I don’t work no more, I’m a retired vet, and to do my contribution, this is one of the things I do,” Brown said.
Brown volunteers three days a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but said he is available anytime he is needed.
“If they need somebody, I do that route,” Brown said. “Sometimes they change it because sometimes they give me a call ‘cause some of the volunteers can’t come in because they are sick or the weather or whatever.”
Hot meals are delivered to residents each day and frozen meals are delivered once a week. People who receive the frozen meals receive five frozen meals for the week, Alexander said.
Meals on Wheels delivers around 120 hot meals daily and 230 frozen meals a week, she said.
The meals are delivered from 11 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday, Alexander said.
“A lot of our clients like (the frozen meals) because they can eat the meal whenever,” she said. “Some of them aren’t hungry between 11 and 12 when they receive that food.”
Senior citizens receive a packaged plate consisting of a protein, a starch, some kind of rice or pasta, two vegetables as well as milk, a fruit cup, bread, and a cookie, Alexander said.
The meals come prepackaged with simple heating instructions.
During the pandemic, Meals on Wheels switched to delivering frozen meals to help protect volunteers and clients with their interactions, she said.
Now, WAGES is trying to get back to hot meals to make sure the elderly get a daily meal and social interaction, as well as a wellness check, Alexander said.
“A lot of the clients don’t see anyone during the day or during the week, so having that volunteer come by and just see how they’re doing or check on them (is important) because we need people,” she said.
“A lot of our clients deal with depression and anxiety because they’re not having social interactions, so Meals on Wheels is more than just getting that meal. It’s also just knowing that somebody cares.”
The Meals on Wheels program is available for people who are unable to prepare meals for themselves, primarily people who are homebound.
Meals on Wheels works through the Home Delivered Meals programs, which provides meals to people age 60 or older or people who are disabled and can’t prepare meals and typically live alone or with someone who can’t prepare meals, Alexander said.
The goal of the program is to improve or maintain the health of the elderly by providing nutritious meals, as well as a daily check-ups. Volunteers will also report any problems and are a social contact for the homebound.
WAGES is located at 601 Royall Ave. and can be reached at 919-734-1178.