A big part of AgeWell Services mission is to keep adults 60 and over nourished. That means creating and delivering more than 261,057 meals and 69,250 more to meal sites across three counties each year.
The 12-month average is 27,525 meals each month.
It’s a herculean task!
Each meal starts with rigorous nutritional standards to provide about one-third of a senior’s daily nutritional needs. A six-week rotating menu provides variety and choice. Food shortages have required substitutions frequently. It’s a juggling act to obtain sufficient amounts of specific foods.
A team of 14-15 kitchen staff prepare hot meals each week day, including salads, sandwiches and additional frozen meals for future uses.
The amounts are staggering. For a typical meal using ground beef, up to 400 pounds is needed. Providing fruits and vegetables – 270 pounds of green beans and 350 pounds of applesauce, for example.
The average meal costs $12 to produce and most funders reimburse the agency between $8 to $10 per meal. That means charitable donations help make up the difference.
The biggest cost for each meal is food, coming at $2.50 to $3.00 for each meal using last year’s food costs, which have gone up over 14.4% in the last year.
Some participants pay $6 to $7 for each meal, usually based on their income and ability to pay. Government funding sources also require us to ask all participants to pay a voluntary contribution. Even if people can’t pay, they will not go hungry. This is why the charitable gifts donors make are so critical.
Each stop is documented for the time, the contact with the participant and logged to ensure records are kept for each meal served. Most drivers spend about two hours daily delivering meals, often forging strong relationships with the participants on their routes.
The drivers are also the first line of defense when a participant needs help.
For socially isolated adults, this wellness check can be the difference between life and death. Just ask Lisa H. Her mother, Mary, was found in excruciating pain during a meal delivery in North Holland. The driver promptly called for help so she could get medical attention for painful kidney stones.
“We’re both so grateful for all they do for the seniors,” Lisa explained. “They are very kind and do so much for all the seniors, many of them whom don’t have a family nearby.”
Lunch & Activity Centers
Sometimes called congregate meal sites, these locations provide opportunities for area seniors who are still mobile to gather and enjoy a nutritious meal and social activities.
AgeWell Services provides volunteers, meals and activities for nine sites and works closely with our partners at two additional contracted sites.
The Driftwood Café in Tanglewood Park is yet another place for seniors to get a meal. It’s become a popular Discount Dining locations on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, giving adults 60 and over another option for meals, motion and morale.