Each Sunday we will feature a project going on within the city, happenings within a department or someone who works hard to provide services to the community. This week features an organization, Meals on Wheels, which works hard to bring food and comfort to our residents who are unable to leave their homes.
Meals on Wheels, a program of the Porter County Visiting Nurses Association, has a mission to empower people to live valued, independent lives in their home.
To accomplish that mission, said Julie Kissinger, life service director, they bring hot nutritious meals along with a friendly visit to more than 50 Portage residents at this time.
Kissinger said Meals on Wheels would like to grow its presence in Portage and serve more residents.
Volunteers deliver a hot lunch or a hot lunch and light supper to residents up to five days a week. Those who sign up can register for a full five days of meals or pick and choose which days they would like to have a meal delivered.
Some 175 volunteers deliver meals on 22 routes a day through Porter County. Volunteers are background checked and receive training.
Before COVID, said Kissinger, volunteers would know on the client's door, bring in meals and often chatted. Sometimes the meal delivery was the only outside contact a client would receive each day and often friendships were formed between the clients and volunteers.
Like other agencies, Meals on Wheels had to change its strategy once the COVID pandemic hit. Meals are now passed at the door, left in insulated bags to provide a no-contact delivery service. To compensate, the program has a team of people who make companion calls to clients each week, just to check on them, say "hi" and make sure they're doing okay.
The meals are prepared at Pines Village in Valparaiso. Kissinger said they work closely with a dietician to provide health options for meals including those that suit the needs of diabetics, those on a heart healthy diet or other medical concern.
"We make every effort to meet the needs of our client," she said.
The cost for a hot lunch is $5.25 per day and the light supper is $1.85 per day. However, said Kissinger, for those who cannot afford the full prices, they work on a sliding fee scale, based on monthly income and expenses, to make the meals affordable.
In addition, Meals on Wheels provides emergency, shelf-stable meals twice a year to clients at no cost just in case weather prevents volunteers from making their daily rounds.
Those interested can receive more information or sign up by calling 219-462-5195 or visit the VNA's website at https://vnanwi.org/services/vna-meals-on-wheels.php