By Sarah E. Teller
OAKLAND MEALS ON WHEELS is a chapter of the nonprofit organization Meals on Wheels America, in business for over 30 years. “We serve people 60 years of age and older, providing both home-delivered and congregate meals,” explained Oakland’s Vice President, Steve Haveraneck. “Depending on need and qualification, we provide a hot home-delivered meal five days a week. We also provide some clients with an additional cold meal and weekend meals as well. We serve congregate meals in Hazel Park, Ferndale, and many other cities.”
The Oakland chapter specifically caters to those in South Central and Southeast Oakland County, including Berkley, Beverly Hills, Birmingham, Clawson, Ferndale, Franklin, Hazel Park, Huntington Woods, Lathrup Village, Madison Heights, Oak Park, Pleasant Ridge, Royal Oak Township, Southfield, and Troy. “All meals are produced by our staff at our central kitchen located in the Troy Community Center,” Haveraneck said. The center is located at 179 Livernois Rd., Troy.
There is an increasing need for the service Meals on Wheels provides. Older adults living at or below poverty are nearly twice as likely to be unable to live independently and, with an aging population and the number of senior citizens living in the U.S. set to double by 2050, there is an immediate need to serve those who are homebound and unable to provide for themselves. The Oakland chapter prepares and delivers a thousand meals per day to homebound seniors. But, the purpose of the organization is not only to deliver meals.
“The nutritious meal, friendly visit, and safety check we provide helps seniors cope with the three biggest threats of aging: hunger, isolation, and loss of independence,” the company’s website states. “Our mission is to provide seniors with the daily delivery of hot nutritious food delivered by a caring person interested in their safety and well-being.”
THE ORGANIZATION COULD NOT OPERATE without the help of volunteers. Haveraneck explained, “Volunteers are essential to our program. We simply could not function without them. They come from the communities we serve and provide help in either producing or delivering the meals. We run Michigan State police background checks on all our volunteers.”
Oakland’s volunteers become involved with the program for many reasons. “People volunteer out of a desire to serve their community and help senior citizens who are less fortunate than themselves,” Haveraneck explained. “The volunteers typically find this to be a very rewarding experience and we have many that have been volunteering for a decade or more!”
Members of the community can easily sign up to serve or make donations. “We are grateful for any and all help we receive from the communities we serve,” said Haveraneck. “We can’t do it without community involvement. We are ready, willing and able to serve anyone who qualifies, 60 and over.”
Meals on Wheels is funded by the state and federal government as well as by donations from meal recipients. Normal hours of operation for the Oakland chapter are 5:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M. Monday through Friday. Those interested in receiving meals, volunteering or donating to the cause should call 248-689-0001.