Community Champions deliver meals on wheels

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March is Nutrition Month, the perfect month for Community Champions Week.

Formerly called Mayors for Meals, Community Champions encourages high profile supporters, including mayors and other elected officials, to raise awareness for Meals on Wheels from March 16-20.

"The concentration of events... helps to spark attention to the programs that keep our clients happier and healthier," said Maureen Vandenberghe, Tillsonburg Multi-Service Centre Communications & Development Coordinator. "We have appreciated the support provided by the mayors from the Town of Tillsonburg and the Township of Norwich, over the last few years, when they have helped to deliver meals during the Campaign Week."

Meals on Wheels is a program that delivers affordable hot meals, prepared by MSC partner Tillsonburg District Memorial Hospital for Tillsonburg routes, Monday to Friday, to clients who pay on a monthly basis for the service ($5.95 per meal). Frozen meals are also available.

On Tuesday, 'runner' Mayor Stephen Molnar joined 'driver' Multi-Service Centre's Lindsay Metcalfe to deliver Meals on Wheels. Assigned the orange route, they met at TDMH at 11:15 a.m. to pick up three meals, which were transported in three insulated bags (donated by Marwood).

"Some people use GPS," said Metcalfe, pulling out of the hospital parking lot, "but you can get very used to the route."

The orange route, shortest of three in Tillsonburg, delivers only to houses. The green route includes apartment buildings. And the blue route, longest of the three, stretches across town.

"I've never actually counted (how many individual deliveries are made)," said Metcalfe. "Lately, the blue route has 10."

The exact number of deliveries varies from day to day – some people order meals daily, some only on specific days.

"You think you know the town until..." said Metcalfe, on the way to their first delivery.

"Left here, right?" she asked Molnar.

"Yes, you can go left there," said Molnar, wisely not responding with 'right.' "I should know the town as well, or better, than most in my mayor's capacity, but..."

The first delivery, Dorothy Wilson, was expecting their arrival.

"You were already set," Molnar smiled as he transferred a meatloaf and soup meal to Wilson's dinner tray.

"We were waiting for you," Wilson chuckled. "I have it ready every day."

"Do they bring your meals five days a week?" Molnar asked.

Wilson nodded.

"Then I keep on crocheting," she said, a twinkle in her eye.

"Now that's a quote," Molnar laughed. "That's a quote right there."

After a short visit, Molnar and Metcalfe proceeded to the next two houses on Tuesday's route.

"We also have routes in Otterville in the winter months, we have a Straffordville route from Tuesday to Friday, and a Norwich route five days a week," said Metcalfe.

In addition to TDMH, which makes the meals for Tillsonburg deliveries, meals are prepared by Village Restaurant in Norwich, Sunshine Restaurant in Straffordville, and the golf course in Otterville when it's open.

"It's not just the food, it's the security," said Molnar, passing on comments from their next client. "I could have a fall, but one time a day, at a certain time, if I don't answer... they'll go get some help. So there's a security aspect – it's almost like a daily checkup."

Typically, it can take up to one hour to deliver the meals.

"When I've done it in the summertime, people would have a little cooler set out on the front porch," said Molnar. "You take your items from your big cooler and putting it in their smaller cooler. And then leave."

An ice pack in the cooler is required to do that, said Metcalfe, for safety reasons.

"Frozen meals are also available for the same price," Metcalfe noted. "We don't really have a big interest in frozen meals though."

For more information on the Meals on Wheels program, visit the MSC website at multiservicecentre.com or phone 519-842-9008.

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