Grand River Hospital District’s Western Garfield County Meals on Wheels serves up more than just food
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
NEW CASTLE, Colorado – She’s known as “The Chocolate Lady.”
At least that’s what the volunteer delivery people for Grand River Hospital District’s Western Garfield County Meals on Wheels call 86-year-old Melva Marney of New Castle.
Marney has been receiving the home-delivered meals five days a week through the program for the past couple of years.
“My son-in-law heard about the program and it seemed like the right thing to do,” Marney said. “My kids want to make sure I get good nutrition and take care of myself.”
The hot meals include a meat, vegetable, side dishes, salad, dessert and an Ensure nutrition drink.
“I don’t have to cook,” Marney said. “I can’t see very well. But they give me good nutritious meals.”
If Marney doesn’t answer the door, the volunteer meal delivery person will immediately call family members or take measures to try to locate her.
Some of the volunteers even spend time visiting with Marney and some write her Christmas cards.
Along with the Meals on Wheels program, Marney is also a recipient of the district’s new “Blizzard Bags” program.
Blizzard Bags contain 24 hours worth of emergency food that is shelf stable for one year and includes heat-and-eat meals, oatmeal packets, cookies, water and more. The bag also comes with emergency signs that can be placed in windows signaling whether the person inside is all right or in need of help. They are designed to be used if food cannot be delivered or in case of an emergency. Blizzard Bags are prepared by the Medical Reserve Corps of Garfield County and is a collaborative effort among many organizations.
The food for the Meals on Wheels program is prepared by the kitchen staff at the Grand River Hospital District.
“GRHD has been paramount in their support of this project and so many community groups have been involved,” said Mickey Neal, co-coordinator for the Medical Reserves Corps of Garfield County.
Meals on Wheels, which has been operated and supported by Grand River Hospital District since 1976, delivered more than 9,000 meals in 2008 and so far this year has provided about 8,000 meals, according to Kaaren Peck manager of volunteer services for the Meals on Wheels program serving New Castle to Parachute. Peck oversees 77 volunteers who serve on three routes, with about 10-15 delivery persons per route who deliver more than 650 meals a month to homes in New Castle, Silt, Rifle Battlement Mesa and Parachute.
“Delivery takes about an hour to an hour and a half from noon to 1:30 p.m.,” Peck said. “And the idea of the new Blizzard Bag is that everything is in it – it doesn’t go bad and you can heat it in the stove or microwave or you can eat it cold.”
Western Garfield County Meals on Wheels and Grand River are also working to ensure that seniors who participate in the program have their pets taken care of as well. With grant money from Banfield Animal Hospitals, clients can have pet food delivered to their home with their Meals on Wheels delivery, offering peace of mind knowing their pets are well fed.
And that’s not all.
In a partnership with Garfield County Public Library District, Meals on Wheels now offers a book program, delivering clients reading materials of their choice once a month. Recipients have a choice of what type of reading material they prefer and in addition to the books, they can also check out books on cassette, CD and MP3 players.
“At GRHD, we feel that Meals on Wheels is far more than delivering nutritious food, but is a community endeavor to provide daily contact, companionship and a better quality of life,” Peck said. “All of these program enhancements make our Western Garfield County Meals on Wheels an enriching adventure for both our clients and our volunteers.”
And Marney is one client who will testify to that.
“I am so grateful,” Marney said. “The food and the delivery is impeccable. I think it’s pretty great.”
So why do they call her “The Chocolate Lady?”
“I hand out Hershey’s Kisses to the kids,” Marney said with a laugh. “They come with their mothers and want to see the chocolate lady.”
For more information about Western Garfield County Meals on Wheels or to sign up for the program, contact Kaaren Peck at (970) 625-6423. For more information about Blizzard Bags, contact Mickey Neal at (970) 624-3393.
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