Meals on Wheels Keeps Rolling in WNC

When COVID-19 hit, millions of older adults found themselves more vulnerable and in need of a way to access nutritious food safely. Meals on Wheels (MOW) and its volunteers rose to the challenge of helping keep older adults fed, safe, and in their homes. WNC Bridge Foundation supported several local chapters, including those in Buncombe and Haywood Counties.

Meals on Wheels provides home-delivered, hot, nutritious lunchtime meals Monday-Friday to homebound seniors with limited financial, social, and physical resources. The organization serves as a safety net for this particularly vulnerable population, focusing on increasing food security, improving nutrition, alleviating isolation, and promoting independence.

Meals on Wheels of Asheville Buncombe County currently serves 450 homebound seniors a hot, nutritious meal each weekday. An IMPACT Grant from WNC Bridge Foundation allowed MOW Buncombe to purchase food to prepare 8,000 meals helping the organization meet the nutritional needs of homebound seniors in Buncombe County.

 Haywood County Meals on Wheels is using its IMPACT Grant funding to quickly serve seniors who have recently been discharged from either the hospital, rehabilitation, nursing facility, or are receiving in-home aid due to immediate critical health challenges. “Many of our volunteers are seniors themselves with hearts that go on for miles, and volunteering for MOW is a way to stay engaged in their community,” notes program supervisor, Steffie Duginske.

 “Staff, volunteers, and the community at large treat MOW recipients like family. They go above and beyond to take care of each person’s unique needs as much as possible.” For example, MOW Haywood took special measures to help recipients and volunteers navigate the COVID-19 vaccination process. Seasonally, different community groups donate locally grown food from their gardens that get used in the meals. Recipients receive birthday cards and handmade flower bouquets from garden clubs, showing that for many, Meals on Wheels is more than just a meal.

The effects of malnutrition and isolation are a growing concern for our aging population. Our IMPACT Grant from WNC Bridge provided a CRITICAL resource of funding for a very vulnerable population of Seniors, especially during the pandemic.”
~Debbie Sprouse, Executive Director MOW Buncombe

Receiving a grant to support seniors leaving a clinical setting has allowed Haywood County Meals on Wheels to quickly help those who need support; allowing them to return to their own home to recover during a critical time and not have to worry about food.”
~Steffie Duginske, Program Supervisor MOW Haywood

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Buncombe County Meals on Wheels, Volunteer Jim Caro preparing to make food deliveries.
Steffie Duginske (center) with volunteers Judy Nelsen (left) and Susan Brooks (right)