Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Meals-On-Wheels may sound like the name of the latest fast food restaurant, but in reality, it's far from it. Astoria, like many communities nationwide has a program (meals-on-wheels) which delivers a hot meal to residents who are housebound. Typically, those served by the program are elderly and often have limited contact with the world outside of their front door.

During the snowy days in late December, I had the honor on several occasions to assist with the daily deliveries. My job was relatively simple, arrive at the center's kitchen at 9:30 AM, load the 40 to 50 hot meals into coolers, and then stow the coolers in the delivery vehicle. As the assistant, all that is necessary is a strong back and a weak mind. Fortunately, the vehicle driver has been making daily deliveries for a number of years so he knows where to go without aid of map, compass, or GPS. Once the vehicle is loaded, you just follow the driver's cues.

Once started, the process is simple and repeated until all meals are delivered; cross check the individual name and address with the list and be sure if they are a diabetic they get a white bag. I have never looked inside of one, but apparently the diabetic's "goodie bag" is different. I presume that the difference has to do with the type of dessert served, but that's only a guess on my part.

The delivery process seldom takes much more than two hours so it's not a big time commitment. On the other hand, the rewards are priceless! At nearly every stop, you are greeted by someone whose smile of gratitude is truly genuine!

The meals-on-wheels organization also insists that when you volunteer, you must take a meal home with you for your personal enjoyment. After my first time out, I arrived back at the center to find that all the volunteer lunch were marked with your name as shown in the photo. The row of lunch bags marked with each individual's name instantly sent me back to my elementary school days; believe me, that's a long trip!

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