Joyce Miles and Patricia Antonio know what it feels like to have people around you who genuinely care. The two have been friends for more than 50 years and have volunteered with Meals on Wheels in some capacity for about four decades.
“It’s just something that you enjoy doing,” said volunteer Joyce Miles.
Her friend Patricia Antonio agreed. “I’ve had yet to have anybody that wasn’t happy to see you…you have a few that are your favourites and you check on them,” she added.
Meals on Wheels is a non-profit volunteer service providing delivery of hot and/or frozen well-balanced, nutritious meals to any adult who is at nutritional risk. The service has been available throughout Niagara since the early 196O’s. Menus for hot meals are on a four-week cycle, with a main course containing meat, fish or fowl, with vegetables and potatoes, rice or pasta. They are delivered across Niagara from Monday to Friday at lunchtime. Although there is no choice of menu for hot meals, all dietary restrictions can be accommodated and special attention With frozen meals, clients have their choice of seven entrees, desserts and soups each week. These meals can be heated in the microwave or toaster oven, allowing for choice of mealtime.
The organization’s client base is made up mainly of seniors and people with mental and physical challenges. Visits also provide much-needed social contact and a safety check on wellbeing.
Volunteers are the backbone of Meals on Wheels, said Marianne McRae, executive director of the Niagara Falls chapter. Antonio and Miles both relate to the clients on their routes who want to live independently in their homes for as long as possible, but need a bit of extra help. “We think we’re still able to handle just about anything that comes our way. That’s not necessarily true,” she said, adding any volunteers’ concerns are followed up by staff.