GRANDVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — It’s an organization that has been around since 1984 serving all parts of Kent and Allegan counties, but the heart of it is in Grandville — Meals On Wheels of Western Michigan.
Its focus is centered on a simple core principle that no senior goes hungry or forgotten. They serve more than 7,300 seniors each year, delivering between 3,000 to 5,000 meals each and every day. They’re able to do that through the work and generosity of more than 900 volunteers who give tens of thousands of hours each year.
And while providing nutritious and nourishing meals to seniors is important to their mission and service, it is a piece of what they deliver every day.
“Our volunteers say that meal delivery piece is some of the most rewarding volunteer work they’ve ever done,” Meals On Wheels of Western Michigan CEO Lisa Wideman said. “You making that human connection, that social connection, for the senior is just as important as the meal. That loneliness factor and having a friendly person come in, check on them, make sure they’re OK. Chat with them a little bit. Maybe do a little of this or that for them, it’s priceless.”
There’s a long-standing partnership between Meals on Wheels of Western Michigan and Feeding America West Michigan. Wideman has been working in some capacity at Meals on Wheels for the past 20 years. Since then, the organization has always played a critical role in helping provide for homebound seniors.
And while the work Feeding America West Michigan is able to contribute toward the meal delivery service is important, it’s the help with the senior food pantry at Meals on Wheels that is most vital.
“Without Feeding America, we would really struggle to have good, balanced food options that are pantry friendly,” Wideman said. “We’re able to utilize Feeding America in that way and it’s absolutely critical to our food pantry.”
Last year, more than 1 million pounds of food was distributed through the senior food pantry. Nationally, 1 in 6 seniors struggles with hunger, according to Meals on Wheels. And from their most recent research, MOW says that for 30% of their seniors, that food delivery each week is the only outside interaction they have on a regular basis.