COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
The Pullman Meals on Wheels has received a $2,500 grant from the America’s Farmers Grow Communities program.
The program gives farmers an opportunity to direct charity funds to local nonprofits. Local farmer Cheryl Druffel applied for the grant and directed the funds to Meals on Wheels.
The Meals on Wheels program delivers meals to local seniors, said Nancy Backes, Meals on Wheels executive director. It is limited to homebound seniors 60 years or older.
She said they receive donations from the community and apply for small community grants. They are excited to receive this grant because it was a nice surprise.
It has become difficult to rely on grants because the price of the meals and labor has grown, she said. They want to ensure that the program can continue to provide this service to local seniors.
“We try to fit all the puzzle pieces together,” Backes said. “We’re realizing that we need to get a little more serious about that, and we’re actually holding our very first fundraiser this year in October, which will be a dinner and silent auction.”
The program delivers a hot lunch meal to 15 clients a day, Backes said. Since 2010, the program has delivered over 31,000 meals to over 120 different seniors.
The program has been in Pullman since 1973, she said, and it started with community members wanting to make sure they were taking care of local seniors.
“I think the main thing is that our community has really bought into the Meals on Wheels program and taking care of seniors,” Backes said.
Druffel said the volunteers for the program are from several different churches in Pullman.
She said she has been a volunteer for the Meals on Wheels program for four years. She is a member of Sacred Heart Church, and members of their church volunteer three times a year.
Backes said the meals are prepared at Bishop Place Senior Living, a local senior home. The food they prepare for Meals on Wheels is the same as the food they serve to their tenants, which is always a hot main dish with a side dish.
Along with delivering the meals, the volunteers have a chance to check in with the clients, Backes said. This is one of the benefits of having a daily program, being able to follow up with the clients if there is a concerning situation.
Meals on Wheels has four administrative employees that work a quarter-time schedule, Backes said, but all the meal distribution is done by volunteers from local churches.
The grant will help them keep up with the day-to-day operations, purchasing meals and paying their few employees.
“We want to maintain the Meals on Wheels program to be a very strong independent program without any question of its long-term viability,” Backes said.