WHITE MOUNTAINS — In November and December we want to feed everybody. It’s the holiday season and we are consumed with the holiday spirit that longs for “peace on earth, good will toward men.” White Mountain Meals on Wheels has that holiday spirit all year long and would like to be able to reach more people who need their service. Chairman Steve Beardsley brought that message to the Pinetop-Lakeside Historical Society recently, adding also that volunteers are needed.
Though the story of Meals on Wheels has been told many times, it bears telling again. There are even some things you may not know about the service.
The only requirement for a hot meal five days a week is that a person be at least 60 years of age. For White Mountain Meals on Wheels you do have to be in their territory which includes part of Linden and the general area of Show Low and extending to Lakeside, all the way to Pinetop to Charlie Clark’s.
The cost of a meal is $7, which includes emergency weekend packs which contain easy to fix items, such as soup. The territory is logistical because it is mandated that food temperature must be at 140 degrees when delivered. The delivery of the meal also serves as a wellness check, so-to-speak, and personal interaction with the individual or individuals receiving it. Some of the recipients are isolated and would have no human contact if it were not for the delivery by volunteers who not only know their names but pay attention to any changes.
One important fact noted by Meals on Wheels is “We can provide an entire year of Meals on Wheels service to a client for less than the average cost of one week in a nursing home or one day in a hospital.”
The meals for some individuals are subsidized by the City of Show Low and some paid for by some of the individuals themselves. Others are subsidized by the Northern Arizona Council of Governments (NACOG) and DES and from generous donations from the White Mountain community.
Though the current count of people on the service is 45, Beardsley said, “it is up and down.” This is also true of volunteers now that many have left the Mountain for the winter.
“It takes about an hour and a half five days a week,” according to Beardsley, for a volunteer to deliver the meals on their route. Deliveries are made from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
“Meals are prepared at the Show Low Senior Center where they are fresh,” explained Beardsley. The Senior Center serves meals for anyone in the community five days a week at 301 E. McNeil from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Reservations can be made daily at 928-532-0656.
Beardsley invites anyone who has extra time, or knows of someone looking to volunteer, to consider the Meals on Wheels program. He said the program would like to expand its coverage area, but they need volunteers to be able to accomplish that.
A good opportunity to experience the quality food delivered to residents, and to see the dedicated volunteers will be Tuesday, Nov. 26., with two seatings, 11 a.m. and 12 p.m., Thanksgiving Dinner will be served free of charge at the Show Low Senior Center. Reservations are required for this event because it is limited to 150 people. They will also be conducting a raffle for a special quilt at 12:45 p.m. that day.
White Mountain Meals on Wheels (Show Low Meals on Wheels) is a 501©3 and was begun in 1981. Donations can be made at the Show Low Senior Center or on the website at www.showlowmealsonwheels.com. There is also a place on the website where a confidential referral can be made for someone who may need meals.