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Centra community partner: Meals on Wheels

Published on Friday February 17, 2023
Meals on Wheels Hero image

One organization in our community is committed to serving those who are homebound by providing nutritious, hot lunches to those in need five days a week, every week of the year. Meals on Wheels (MOW), which has been serving Lynchburg since 1974, has expanded its service area over the years to include Amherst, Bedford and Campbell Counties. As the organization approaches its 50th anniversary, they are also scheduled to deliver their three millionth meal in 2023! Keep reading to learn more about the work that MOW is doing to improve the health and food security of individuals in our community.

If they meet the Meals on Wheels criteria, any adult, regardless of age or income, is eligible to receive meals on a short or long term basis depending on the duration of their need. However, the organization views its work as so much more than just delivering meals. They also help individuals to maintain their independence and live at home longer by increasing food accessibility. Additionally, their volunteers nourish more than just the body with their food delivery–they are key in addressing the loneliness and isolation that those who are homebound experience on a weekly if not daily basis.

Meals on Wheels of Lynchburg’s Communications Director, Becky Tweedy, shared, “a meal drop off from a volunteer often gives a recipient a reason to get up, to get dressed and to watch the news or read the paper,” because they know someone will be stopping by to deliver their meal and chat. Essentially, volunteers build relationships with the recipients and ultimately foster the human connection that each of us innately crave.

It takes a volunteer around 90 minutes or less to deliver meals on one of the 42 routes in Meals on Wheels’ service area, and oftentimes, volunteers will work the delivery route into their day by delivering the meals on their personal lunch break. While other Meals on Wheels across the United States paused their delivery service in 2020, the Lynchburg based organization devised a way to deliver meals in a socially distanced manner which means that the growth of the program has not stopped. In 2022, they delivered an average of 575 meals per day which means they delivered almost 150,000 meals total!

Centra’s partnership with Meals on Wheels has taken many forms throughout its history. In addition to sponsorship of the non-profit’s fundraising events and grants provided through Centra’s Department of Community Health, all meals delivered by MOW Lynchburg are prepared in the kitchen of Centra Virginia Baptist Hospital (VBH). The VBH Kitchen is able to accommodate the restrictive diets that some meal recipients have, and according to Tweedy, “lunches consist of an entree, vegetable, salad or fruit, bread, beverage, and often dessert and are reviewed by a registered dietician. They have the credibility of coming from a hospital.”