Beaumont mayor delivers meals to seniors

photo by Brandi Haskett

The Meals On Wheels Association of America kicked off Community Champions Week on Monday, March 17, as part of the 12th annual March for Meals.

The single day that was known as Mayors For Meals became a week-long celebration in 2014 called Community Champions Week, when during the third week in March — Monday, March 17, through Friday, March 21, 2014 – Nutrition and Services For Seniors encouraged all pro-grams to enlist local officials, celebrities, athletes and/or business owners to get out, speak up, deliver meals and raise awareness.

Mayor Becky Ames did her part by volunteering Thursday, March 20, by visiting with seniors and helping deliver meals around the area.

Ames said she values not only the meals Nutrition and Services For Seniors distributes to area residents, but also the time volunteers share.

“Nutrition is always important, but the socialization they receive is also important to our seniors,” Ames said. “I’ve done this every year since I’ve been mayor, and I always look forward to it; the seniors always get so excited!”

One Meals On Wheels recipient, Doyle Mitchell Sr., said, “I was so shocked to see the mayor bringing me my meal today.”

Mitchell has been with the program for about four months and said he enjoys the different variety of food that is delivered daily.

“We are excited about having area municipal leaders participate in our March for Meals Community Champions week,” said executive director Elaine Shellenberger.

More than 1,800 meals are made daily for recipients of the Meals on Wheels program at the Nutrition and Health Services Center in Beaumont. Hot, healthy meals are delivered throughout Hardin and Jefferson counties to disabled adults and seniors — for many the only real meal they will eat that day.

Shellenberger says seniors are too often stuck in their homes because of the lack of transportation. “We’ve found that several of our seniors have family that lives out of town, and we have become a surrogate family to them, which is really important,” she said. “We also encourage our seniors to get out and fellowship. We have congregate meals, and people play cards together, so that’s a great fellowship to participate in.”

 Volunteers are always encouraged to come out and participate all year long. For more than 14 years, Suzanne Stafford has been volunteering her time to deliver meals and loves the experience. “I wanted to volunteer somewhere and I thought, ‘What could be nicer than bringing food to someone?’ Once you start you just can’t quit!”

For years Nutrition and Services for Seniors in Beaumont has been providing not only delicious meals, but also transportation, groceries and much needed companionship to the elderly. They also deliver pet food with the AniMeals Program.

Over the past month, nearly 350 Meals on Wheels programs across the country have recruited more than 2,000 members of Congress, mayors, governors, local celebrities and community leaders as champions to help raise awareness for senior hunger. The Meals On Wheels Association of America is the only national organization and network dedicated solely to ending senior hunger in America. The association is the oldest and largest organization composed of and represents local, community-based Senior Nutrition programs in all 50 states and U.S. territories. More than 5,000 Meals on Wheels programs leverage a dedicated army of 2 million volunteers who day-in and day-out create an efficient and caring way to keep America’s seniors independent, healthy and able to live in their own homes.

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