Meals on Wheels is the real deal
Western Garfield County Staff
Cleo Schultz lives alone in the home where she raised her children in Silt. The 85-year-old has a beautiful garden and still does community service work from her home. But it’s not easy for Schultz to get around. She’s diabetic and struggles for breath when she exerts herself at all.
Schultz, who has long, braided, gray hair and a sharply curved back, gets around town in a scooter with an umbrella now that she doesn’t drive anymore. Since she has trouble getting around, it’s easier for her to get three balanced meals a day if she has someone deliver one of them. Sandy Valdez brings Schultz lunch from Meals on Wheels every Tuesday. Other volunteers deliver to Schultz every other day except Saturday and Sunday. Schultz gets all of her weekend meals on Fridays.
“There’s always something for us to talk about,” Valdez said. “We’ve known each other a long time.”
Schultz said she visits with all the volunteers who bring her meals. She knows most of them very well, since she’s lived in the community for so long.
“I have a joke to tell about Meals on Wheels,” Schultz said. “This cat died and went to heaven. At the pearly gates, he met St. Peter, who said the cat had been very good and could have a reward. What would he like? The cat said he would like a nice soft bed. Done. A few weeks later some mice died. St. Peter asked what they would like. They said they would like roller skates. They always wanted roller skates. A few weeks later, St. Peter went to the cat and asked how he was doing. ‘Great. My bed is so comfortable and those meals on wheels you sent were delicious,'” Schultz laughed.
Valdez said she also delivers to people who don’t want to be social. She doesn’t mind. She just leaves the meal with them and goes on to make the next delivery.
Schultz has had Meals on Wheels deliver for about three years.
“I’ll tell you what I really like,” Schultz said. “Well, there was fried chicken yesterday, and that was pretty good. But I really like the stuffed cabbage. That is so good.”
There are some things Schultz can’t or doesn’t like to eat. She said she’s still letting the folks at Grand River Medical Center know what those things are. But once she’s told them, she doesn’t have to worry about finding it in her lunch anymore.
Grand River prepares meals every day for about 15 people and sends out three volunteers to Silt, Rifle and Parachute to deliver them.
“We’d like to grow the program to about 50 people,” said Mickey Neal, the Meals on Wheels coordinator at the hospital. “I think there are at least that many people who need it. We want to reach people who are homebound. No one should be going hungry.”
Meals on Wheels cost $4 a day, which covers the cost of food and packaging. The hospital covers any other or extra expenses. Neal said the hospital operates the program on a steep sliding scale and there is financial aid available for people who need it.
As the number of people the program serves grows, Neal will need more volunteers to deliver the meals. She said she has about 25 individuals who rotate the responsibility right now, but she still ends up delivering meals herself sometimes when volunteers go on vacation or have other conflicts.
Neal said people who get Meals on Wheels can make special requests regarding allergies and preferences. Hospital employees prepare the food in Grand River’s cafeteria kitchen and send out something different every day.
“Nutrition and dietary needs are important,” Neal said. “But a lot of the people we deliver to ” the only people they see are the volunteers.”
Contact Amanda Holt Miller at 625-3245 ext. 103
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