Most of us have heard of the well-known nonprofit Meals on Wheels. Maybe you have had a grandparent or neighbor benefit from the organization’s free meal delivery service. But what do you really know about your local Meals on Wheels chapter and what they are doing right here in Greenville County?
Did you know that the local chapter, located at 15 Oregon St. in Greenville, serves more than 2,500 people each year? Did you know that their nutrition staff prepares over 1,200 meals a day in their industrial kitchen, starting their shift at 5:30 a.m.? And did you know that the program is almost solely dependent upon volunteers who not only deliver meals but also package them each day?
It’s quite an operation indeed. Catriona Carlisle, executive director of Meals on Wheels in Greenville, said volunteers are responsible for 130 routes every day, covering 805 square miles of Greenville County.
“We have been serving the homebound and seniors in Greenville County for over 50 years,” Carlisle said. “This service helps people remain in their homes and maintain their independence.”
And they don’t just deliver “prepared” meals. The food they serve up is healthy and diabetic-friendly, and they cater to special diets. They can prepare pureed, vegetarian or chopped, as well as meals for people on a renal diet.
Maybe most importantly, the meals are delivered hot by a volunteer who takes the time to knock on their door, deliver the meal and say “hello.”
“Meals on Wheels is more than a meal delivery service,” Carlisle said. “Our volunteers are personal contacts for them and a resource. They can report back to us if further assistance is needed for the client, and we can get that help for them in a timely fashion.”
Volunteers are always accepted. Orientation for potential volunteers is held every Thursday at 9:30 a.m., for about an hour, at the office. Orientation can be rescheduled for people who cannot meet at that time.
Carlisle said, “People can volunteer once a month. They don’t have to do this every day. It is not a huge time commitment, but it is tremendously rewarding.”
Meals on Wheels in Greenville also holds two large events each year – the Sweetheart Charity Ball in February and the Wheels for Meals cycling event in April.
The corporate-based Sweetheart Charity Ball attracts about 600 people each year. This year’s event, held on Feb. 2, raised enough money to provide 50,127 meals to homebound seniors in Greenville County.
Wheels for Meals, held April 27 this year, is an individual or team-based cycling event that gives participants the opportunity to raise funds for the organization. You can register for one of four distances: 25 miles, 50 miles, 72 miles or 100 miles. More than 31,300 meals were provided by the money raised by this event in 2018.
Carlisle encouraged anyone that may know someone who needs meal delivery services to contact Meals on Wheels.
“We have the capacity to accept more clients,” she said. “If you know someone that might benefit from our service, you should refer them to us.”
She said that their clients are referred by doctors, social services or other nonprofits. Anyone who would like to reach out about a potential homebound client should call 864-233-6565 for more information.
If you can’t volunteer but would like to help further the Meals on Wheels mission, you are encouraged to donate; the hot meal program is 100-percent supported by donations.
More information, visit www.mealsonwheelsgreenville.org.
By Theresa Stratford