The Three M’s: Mutual Aid, Magnanimity and Meals on Wheels

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While August 19 was International Humanitarian Day, just a short stone’s throw from the Waldport Post Office is a hub of volunteers and one director feeding the soul of the needy on a weekly basis. For manager Nicole Person, her 10 years of service with Meals on Wheels in Waldport have been a lesson in humility and nutritional needs of those receiving the hot and frozen meals.

Photo: Meals on Wheels (file)

Most of the 55 meals that are delivered by volunteers go to housebound recipients who are elderly, and many of the volunteers are also elderly but able-bodied and capable of driving those meals to the worthy recipients.

As an historical aside, the Meals on Wheels program started during World War Two, in London, as the so-called “blitz” crumbled people’s homes and disenabled them from preparing and cooking meals.

food centres

Nicole points out this home-delivered meal program throughout the U.S. significantly improves diet quality, reduces food insecurity and ups the quality-of-life among the recipients.

For those concerned about tax dollars and so-called entitlement program expenditures, the Meals on Wheels program reduces taxpayer funds allotted to hospitals, nursing homes or other expensive community-based services.

The 62-year-old Nicole lives in Seal Rock, but her life started in Los Altos, California, where she graduated from Saint Francis High School (Mountain View). She’s worked in Atlanta for Health Unlimited, a supplement company. She graduated from Stevens College in Missouri.

The bottom line for Nicole and her volunteers is bringing the gift of food to folks aging in place. Like the local postal delivery person, volunteers for Meals on Wheels sometimes become the first line of defense for people living in precarious situations.

Meals on Wheels | Meals on wheels, Volunteer, Old london

There is a plethora of disadvantages for an aging population we all face, as either aging folk or family with aging relatives in our midst:

• The economy is out of control in terms of unending inflation; the safety nets are being defunded by both political parties, so there is increased pressure on health services; many jobs are unfilled, so older people in need of income end up in jobs that are too physically demanding which put them at risk for mental and physical harm.

• The biggest concern is the atomization of our society, where families are pulled apart and cast themselves far and wide, away from aging parents and grandparents who are in need of home maintenance support and transportation needs.

• The biggest issue is, of course, not just mobility, but finding a group of people for social support, people to interact with, to break bread with and just to be in their presence.

The Meals on Wheels for our area covers Linn, Benton and Lincoln counties. It is part of the Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments Community Services Program. The COG has been providing meals in our area for 43 years.

Around 500 meals are prepared daily for Siletz, Toledo, Lincoln City, Newport and Waldport in Newport. According to the program parameters, any individual or a couple in which one member is 60 or older, as well as Native Americans 55 and older, is eligible for delivered meals. Those with mobility restrictions and other Medicare provisos can get frozen meals also delivered to cover seven days a week.

Nicole Person is proud of Waldport’s volunteers and the community at large for supporting the Meals on Wheels program. The blurb on the pamphlet I picked up there says it all: “Meals on Wheels is much more than just a meal. It’s also a link to your community. Seniors eligible for Meals on Wheels know that they’ll not only have a nutritious meal each day, but also a short, friendly visit and safety check by our dedicated volunteer drivers. If you don’t answer your door when our driver arrives, they won’t just leave your meal and drive away. Special efforts are always taken to find out if you need help, and any concerns are reported quickly and appropriately.”

For summer months, the hot meal program only covers Mondays and Fridays because the Waldport Wednesday Market unfortunately takes up much parking. Additionally, Nicole stressed her aging volunteers and on-site meal recipients should not be put at risk attempting to find parking or crossing the street during the 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. market hours.

The three-day-a-week hot meals program starts up again in October, but again, those who are eligible in our area can get a meal a day through the frozen meal program.

The Waldport program serves Yachats and Seal Rock, as well as folk up the Alsea River. Thousands of hot meals a year are prepped in Waldport as well as the delivery of frozen packaged meals for eligible homebound citizens.

While this piece initially highlighted International Humanitarian Day, Meals on Wheels does fit that definition. The saying, “it takes a village to raise a child,” can be applied to a larger arena: “It takes a village to support a person in a humanitarian crisis.”

We have record-high humanitarian needs around the world. The 2023 World Humanitarian Day built on that metaphor of “a collective endeavor to grow global appreciation of humanitarian work.”

Meals on Wheels providing 2 million lockdown meals a month | CORONAVIRUS MONITOR

The Waldport Meals on Wheels is doing humanitarian good for each individual served, the volunteers and for the larger community. Nicole Person is just one of many people working to ease food insecurity and to increase the community-based safety net.

• Original story, August 25, Newport News Times.

Paul Haeder's been a teacher, social worker, newspaperman, environmental activist, and marginalized muckraker, union organizer. Paul's book, Reimagining Sanity: Voices Beyond the Echo Chamber (2016), looks at 10 years (now going on 17 years) of his writing at Dissident Voice. Read his musings at LA Progressive. Read (purchase) his short story collection, Wide Open Eyes: Surfacing from Vietnam now out, published by Cirque Journal. Here's his Amazon page with more published work Amazon. Read other articles by Paul, or visit Paul's website.