March 23, 2011
To reach out to their homebound constituents, elected officials in Monterey County will join Meals on Wheels volunteers in delivering hot lunches to seniors and disabled adults on Wednesday.
As part of the annual, national Mayors for Meals event, Del Rey Oaks council member Dennis Allion, Pacific Grove Mayor Carmelita Garcia, Marina Mayor Pro Tem Frank O’Connell, Sand City Mayor David K. Pendergrass, Monterey council member Nancy Selfridge, Salinas Mayor Dennis Donohue, Gonzales Mayor ProTem Scott Funk and Carmel council member Karen Sharp will participate.
Meals on Wheels “gives people the dignity to stay within their own residence and not have to be moved to an extensive care facility just because they cannot cook or shop,” says Andrea Fuerst, director of the affiliated Sally Griffin Active Living Center in Pacific Grove.
“During these tough economic times, the food and human contact we provide to homebound seniors in this community is needed more than ever,” said Janine Nunez Robinette, executive director of Meals on Wheels of the Salinas Valley, in a statement.
With 450 volunteers and 13 staff members in Meals on Wheels of the Monterey Peninsula, a hot lunch and cold breakfast and dinner reach 550 individuals, geographically dispersed throughout the peninsula and with varied income levels. Fuerst says personal deliveries are part of what makes Meals on Wheels so important: "The daily visit is something that’s just as valuable as the food. Often, we’re the only person they see.”
Besides serving as an important social connector for the homebound, volunteer visits can be lifesaving, says Fuerst. "We’re also the eyes and ears for families that might be far away, to notice changes in the person’s physical abilities or their mood." Volunteers have sometimes been the first to show up after a fall or an injury and notify emergency responders.
The Salinas Valley chapter reaches about 200 people each week, delivering about 8,750 meals each month.