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Sun, Aug. 18

<I>Serving up more than a hot meal</I><BR>Meals on Wheels programs provide food, human contact to elderly

Courier/Jo. L. Keener

Vivian Hall packages up soup to be delivered by the Meals on Wheels Program Friday at the Prescott Valley Senior Center.

"The congregate meals are for people who are still able to get out and about and go to the center," Kellett said. "It gives them the social aspect they need in their life."

Skellenger said at the Prescott Meals on Wheels dining facility, they don't require reservations and meals for people over 60 are free, and those under 60 can eat there if they pay for their meal.

They serve about 200 meals a day and almost 80,000 meals every year. They have 10 routes for Meals on Wheels and Skellenger said they serve about 100 people every day in the dining area.

Kellett said Yavapai Meals on Wheels has seven routes and Prescott Valley is their largest clientele, serving about 151 people. She said they have nearly 200 volunteers, "which is what keeps us going."

Those volunteers either work in the dining area (preparing for meal time or helping serve meals) or drive meals to seniors in their homes.

"They're trained how to deliver the meals and how to talk with the clients," Kellett said. "They also determine if there's anything the client needs."

The Meals on Wheels portion is there for people who either are not able to leave their home or financially cannot afford hot meals everyday.

Also, Kellett and Skellenger said their organizations are often an "eye" for families of the people at home because they do well checks to see if they need any additional services. If so, they will let other local organizations know about them so they can receive help.

Meals on Wheels programs around the country deliver either breakfast, lunch or dinner or a combination of all three, and the Yavapai Meals on Wheels and Prescott Meals on Wheels serve hot lunches.

Kellett said the meals are well balanced and provide one-third of the recommended daily allowance. They include three ounces of protein (such as meat, cheese and beans), a little more than two cups of either fruits or vegetables, a bread product, a pint of milk and dessert (either fruit, pies or cakes).

"The meals are low in fat, sugar and salt," Kellett said.

The Meals on Wheels programs are so helpful to seniors, she added, not only because they provide food, but they provide friendship as well.

"That volunteer might be the only face the client sees that day," Kellett said, and Skellenger added, "they're really happy to see the drivers. It gives them something to look forward to. We allow them to live longer at home with dignity and integrity."

The organizations also add a little hope by bringing gifts for holidays and cards and cupcakes for birthdays.

Ninety-two year old Lilyan Hohe, a Prescott Valley resident, has been receiving meals from Yavapai Meals on Wheels on and off for the past 10 years.

"These people give their hearts," she said of the staff and volunteers of these organizations. "They don't have to, but they're taking their time and giving to people. They're doing this because they want to."

Hohe said she loves to cook but she is no longer able to. Aside from the good food, she said she enjoys the company of the Meals on Wheels drivers.

"You get to know them and they get to know you," she said. "Without this program, I would have to have a caregiver and I probably wouldn't be able to live at home."

Information: Yavapai Meals on Wheels, 632-9790 and Prescott Meals on Wheels, 445-7630.

Contact the reporter at rbump@prescottaz.com

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