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2:59 PM Mon, Sept. 24th

Mayor delivers meals to those in need

PRESCOTT VALLEY ­ Prescott Valley Mayor Harvey Skoog delivered meals to between 10 and 15 households Wednesday.

The mayor was participating in the Mayors For Meals program, an offshoot of Meals on Wheels' March for Meals Month. Skoog worked with the Meals on Wheels staff and volunteers from Prescott Valley's Central Arizona Senior's Association (CASA) center.

"This is the second year I've done the (Mayors for Meals) program. It's very enjoyable, but it's a learning experience," said Skoog. "Some of these people lead dismal lives. The only person they see some days is the Meals on Wheels driver. It at least brings a little hope and light into their lives."

Skoog said he enjoys reconnecting with those who knew him before he became mayor, but added that often the conditions they and other seniors live in are a sobering reality.

Skoog delivered the meals along with Walter and Mary Coleman, volunteer drivers who have been delivering for Meals on Wheels one day a week for two-and-a-half years.

"They're really friends, not just clients," Walter said. "They look forward to the hot meal, but they also look forward to the social time."

Sylvia Champagne, the CASA center's resident Meals on Wheels cook, lamented that in many cases, the meal clients receive is the only hot meal that person will have that day.

"Since it's sometimes the only meal they get, I try to make it as good as it can be," Champagne said.

June Kellet, the executive director of Meals on Wheels for Black Canyon City, Mayer, Prescott Valley and Yarnell, said that March for Meals month is a five-year-old program designed to tell the public about the plight of homebound seniors.

"They have nutritional and social needs that are not being met otherwise," Kellet said. "We hope this month will raise awareness of what they go through, and what can be done about it."

March is March for Meals month because Congress enacted the "Older Americans Act of 1965."

"The (Older Americans) Act is the engine that drives it all. Without it, programs like Meals on Wheels wouldn't be possible," Kellet said.

Meals on Wheels clients must qualify through the Catholic Charity group, and the coordinator must approve them. Meals on Wheels serves people 60 or older, and the disabled, who are homebound and unable to get a hot meal on their own.

"A lot of our clients need help badly," CASA center's Meals on Wheels program coordinator, Mirian Agrount, said. "Many have no families and no one to look after them. So many are homebound, some confined to their beds or wheelchairs. They have no way to get food for themselves, so Meals on Wheels delivers."

Contact the reporter at dmeurer@prescottaz.com