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Meals on Wheels program at Perry

Meals on Wheels in Perry

Photo by Carolyn Kaberline
Rosa Lee Perron (left) presents Heidi Pickerell with a $50 donation to Meals on Wheels.

 

by Carolyn Kaberline
With well over one million dollars spent by the state of Kansas on nursing facilities each day, it seems only logical that everything that can be done to help cut those expenses should be explored. One of the best choices is Meals on Wheels: every dollar spent on the well-known daily food program represents a $50 savings on Medicaid expenses—not a bad return on the investment.
With those figures in mind, Heidi Pickerell, the president and CEO of the Meals on Wheels program in Shawnee and Jefferson Counties, presented information on the program for those in attendance at the July Perry Senior Citizens luncheon Monday.
Pickerell explained that studies have shown that the logo for the Meals on Wheels program, which began in Shawnee and Jefferson counties in 1972, is better known than any other and that the program has been instrumental in allowing seniors to stay in their homes as long as possible. That alone represents a huge saving to the state based on the earlier figures. While the program is known for its daily delivery to seniors’ homes, congregate meals can also be delivered to a group setting when there is enough interest.
In addition to daily deliveries plus two extra meals for the weekend to those living inside the city limits, a weekly home delivery of multiple frozen meals can be delivered to residents outside the city limits for the convenience of volunteers.
“We’ve added holiday and weekend meals as well since some seniors only eat when they see us,” she said.
Pickerell explained that in addition to the regular offering there are currently three other meals that address special dietary needs.  Those special diets provide the proper nutrition for those with diabetes, renal problems, swallowing complications or a combination of these issues. All meals are heart healthy and are planned by a registered dietician with recipients receiving a list of the weekly average of sodium and carbohydrate content.
“The federal government holds us responsible for providing one-third of the daily nutrition requirements,” Pickerell said.
“Deliveries can either be long or short term,” she explained, adding that many people only need deliveries when they are ill or recovering from other medical conditions. The meal deliveries also provided a safety check on those receiving the meals.
“If the person does not answer the door, we call their contact person,” Pickerell said, noting that usually it’s simply a case of someone taking a nap or forgetting to cancel their meal due to being gone for the day. However, that safety check has also provided emergency care when needed.
Pickerell noted that the program operates on a sliding scale for those who are homebound; however, funding is available for some individuals, and donations are always encouraged.  Those eligible to receive meals include the homebound or an unpaid caregiver caring for a person who is disabled or over 60 and unable to prepare meals. Those 60 or older or a spouse accompanying an individual to a dining center are also eligible to receive a meal.
“Jefferson County gives approximately $5,000 a year to help us,” Pickerell said. That amount while helpful doesn’t stretch far.
Pickerell said that meals for the two counties, Shawnee and Jefferson, are prepared on the Topeka Public Schools campus through an arrangement with the 501 district. From there meals are delivered to various drop off points for volunteers to deliver using their own vehicles. Mileage can be deducted for tax purposes.
Janet Preston who has been delivering meals to Perry seniors for the past seven or eight years also told of her experiences.
“Perry United Methodist Church volunteers meet by the bank to pick up the food each day,” Preston explained. “It’s a good way to meet with those who are shut in. Those who receive the meals are very appreciative.”
Pickerell added that volunteers are always needed.
“The population is aging; we want them to age well,” she said.
More information on the program can be obtained by calling the Meals on Wheels office at 785-295-3980.

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Posted by on Jul 29 2015. Filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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