MOW is a lot more than meals

by Allison Thompson For The Review

A Meals On Wheels of Sheboygan County (MOW) client recently contacted the MOW office to say: “Your meals have been keeping me alive. They are all I am able to eat and I don’t know what I would do without them.”

You see, “John” has no teeth, falls far below the poverty line and has mild cognitive disabilities and social anxiety. This combination makes it difficult for him to prepare food that helps him meet the daily nutritional requirements. Various doctors kept telling this 30-something-year-old man that he needed to eat more, but cooking was too difficult and funds were low.

In March 2015 John called MOW looking for meals that were nutritious, yet edible for his dental limitations. He had lost significant amounts of weight and was very unhealthy. In addition to serving him hot meals three days a week and providing frozen meals for the weekend, the MOW client coordinator connected John with some community resources and provided him with some shelf-stable meals as well as toiletry items. This allowed John’s budget to be further stretched. As his health im- proved, John’s ability to interact with others also improved.

The kindness and nutrition is paying off. Last month John called to say his doctors were pleased with the weight he has been able to gain in the last year – he is up by more than 10 pounds; and he has been able to see a dentist.

That is one of the many ways Meals On Wheels is more than a meal. To further back the importance of daily home-delivered meals, an independent study was conducted by Brown University, commissioned by Meals on Wheels America and funded by the AARP Foundation. “The More Than a Meal” study suggests that receiving meals daily enables seniors to fall less often, which can result in significant healthcare cost savings and enable seniors to remain in their own homes.

“We have known that our meals and kind volunteers make a difference in our client’s lives, but now we have the research to back that theory,” said Kelly Heyn, Meals On Wheels of Sheboygan County CEO.

The study concluded that communication during delivery and well-balanced meals significantly decrease hospitalization, depression and feelings of isolation by providing the nutrition and human interaction needed to maintain health and wellbeing. Fewer falls and better health lead to decreased emergency room visits saving money for all taxpayers.

“If you know of someone in need of meals, please give us a call,” encouraged Heyn.

Since 1970 Meals On Wheels of Sheboygan County has been serving warm meals to yesterday’s kids. “The children of yesterday assumed responsibility in area churches, schools and on the front lines. They served for generations, and now some of them need our help. That is why we continue to advocate for our elderly, disabled, and frail neighbors,” Heyn said.

Meals are available Monday through Friday, and frozen meals can be delivered on Friday for weekend enjoyment. Each meal is homemade by a ServSafe-certified culinary staff in within the Christopher Family Kitchen at MOW. Many of the ingredients – particularly the fruits and vegetables – are locally sourced.

Sheboygan’s Meals On Wheels program was the first in the country to begin significantly utilizing locally sourced produce in their meals. Since then several other facilities around the continent have followed suit, including in Canada and Texas.

For more information about Meals On Wheels, or to register a loved one for meals please call 920- 451-7011.

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