FeedMore’s Meals on Wheels offers nourishment for the body and spirit

Mike Griffin (left) has been a volunteer with Meals on Wheels since 2009.

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The knock on Barbara Waller Nealy’s door is a welcome sound this February morning.

“Meals on Wheels,” a FeedMore staffer calls from the other side.

Nealy looks forward to this visit every single time.

“I know they’re coming like clockwork,” Nealy explains. “They’re usually the first persons I see in the morning, and I know I am going to get as well as give a hug.”

Barbara Waller Nealy says she has made lifelong friends through Meals on Wheels.
Barbara Waller Nealy says she has made lifelong friends through Meals on Wheels.

After having a mild stroke about four years ago, Nealy’s younger daughter knew her mom needed some extra tender loving care. Nealy qualified for Meals on Wheels and never looked back.

“Meals on Wheels is an answer to a prayer,” she says with conviction.

Katie Jantzi, the Director of Meals on Wheels and Senior Nutrition Programs, explains how FeedMore finds the people this program serves.

“In addition to organizations like the Better Housing Coalition, we also receive referrals for our Meals on Wheels program from a variety of sources including hospitals and healthcare organizations, Social Service agencies, area agencies on aging, churches and insurance companies to name a few,” Jantzi says. “We have also found that many of our recipients fall into the word-of-mouth referral category and found out about our Meals on Wheels program from a family member, neighbor or friend.”

FeedMore also works with partner agencies to identify if recipients will be on a long-term or temporary delivery plan.

“They may need food while they’re recovering in rehab for maybe just three meals or maybe 30 meals,” says Tim McDermott, FeedMore’s Chief Development Officer.

There are fourteen therapeutic meals available to cater to specific needs and medical conditions, like diabetes.

Nealy credits the renal meals she receives for helping to reverse her kidney failure.

“My kidney function went from 30 to 35 percent. I went from stage 4, this close to dialysis, to stage three,” Nealy describes. “I love my Meals on Wheels. Sometimes the meal is so good, I almost lick the container!”

Volunteers pack these meals in coolers for distribution.
Volunteers pack these meals in coolers for distribution.

Meals on Wheels, which started in Richmond in 1967, serves 900 homebound seniors each day. The program delivered 293,229 fresh and emergency meals to 1,513 recipients in fiscal year 2016 on 92 routes in fourteen cities and counties in Central Virginia.

Volunteers and FeedMore staff members offer not just nourishment but a connection.

“Some of our long-term volunteers have the same route they drive every single day of the week, sometimes one day a week, and they get to know the recipients very, very well,” says McDermott.

Adds Nealy about the relationship she has with her Meals on Wheels drivers, “How special it is. What else can I say but merci beaucoup.”

Follow this link for information on volunteering with Meals on Wheels.

8News is a proud sponsor of ZestFest 2017. The gala on February 25 benefits FeedMore’s hunger-relief programs, which provide 52-thousand meals each day.

Tickets are no longer available for the event, but FeedMore is accepting donations at this link.

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