By Cheryl Wilkinson
Meals on Wheels (MOW) is recognized nationally for providing meals and a friendly connection to those who are homebound. Since April, we’ve doubled the number of deliveries we’re making in our area.
Our MOW program covers those over 60 who:
• May have a limited ability to stay active;
• Are recovering from an accident, injury or surgery;
• May not be able to prepare healthy meals for a variety of other reasons, including because of disability and/or poverty; and
• Unpaid caregivers assisting these individuals.
We combine MOW with our SIMPLE Nutrition program to provide a hot lunch and fresh and high-quality shelf-stable and frozen foods that provide beyond the mid-day meal. Together, these activities help our consumers have a nutritious meal, a friendly visit and a quick safety check, helping participants stay mentally active, as well as socially engaged.
Meals are individually prepared and packed for delivery based on the needs of each consumer. Some of our drivers have been delivering MOW for more than 10 years. In addition to being the only hot meal of the day for many individuals, our drivers may also be the only contact with the outside world each day for many of these consumers, and the drivers serve as a “safety check” for these program participants. Our drivers get to know the consumers and are always aware of potential areas of concern when serving this population.
This type of supportive care (nutrition, social, outreach) makes it possible for these individuals to remain in their home. Connection, good nutrition, healthy and healing meals, and support for unpaid caregivers are just some of the documented benefits.
Ninety-two percent of consumers report that this service enables them to stay in their own homes; 83 percent report this service improves their health; and 87 percent say it makes them feel more secure (Meals on Wheels America, Colorado Fact Sheet). In addition, supporting individuals saves the consumers, their families and the government money by keeping them out of an institution (Journals of Gerontology; Older Americans Act Fact Sheets; Meals on Wheels Fact Sheet).
Here in Pagosa and across our county, a cadre of about 20 dedicated community volunteer drivers provide the key support that makes MOW work. These drivers work alongside 2 million other volunteers in a network of community-based, nonprofit programs across the US.
Our drivers are vetted, including background checks, prior to joining the volunteers. Schedules and delivery routes allow for visits to the same consumers on a regular basis. Volunteers also fill in for other drivers and scheduling allows for flexibility. Funding for MOW comes in part from the San Juan Basin Area Agency on Aging (SJBAAA) through the Older Americans Act. Other sources include consumer donations and contributions from private donors, foundations, and Archuleta County and the Town of Pagosa Springs.
You can learn more about the Community Café, take out and MOW reservations, and other ASI programs on our website: http://www.psseniors.org/.
VITA tax preparation
Due to COVID-19, the IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program will not be coming to Pagosa Springs to prepare federal and state income tax returns this year.
VITA will be preparing 2020 tax returns at no charge as part of the VITA program in Durango. Please register at: DurangoVITA.org. The gross income limit this tax season is $54,000.
Take-out meals continue at Senior Center
In order to continue providing meals, the Pagosa Springs Senior Center is offering take-out hot meals and a salad with a drive-up option under the portico at the Ross Aragon Community Center.
These meals will be available Monday through Friday between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. There is a $4 suggested donation for lunch for those age 60 and better. If you need to have your meal delivered, please call 264-2167 to see if this option is available in your area.
The cost per meal for the public age 59 and under is $8.50. The meals include a salad, hot meal, drink and dessert or bread.
Please call 264-2167 to make a reservation for pickup. We are also continuing our Meals on Wheels program.
There will be no games, classes or presentations during this time. The staff will be available by phone. If you need to speak to a staff member, please call 264-2167.
The Community Café menu
Thursday, Feb. 25 — Zuppa Toscana, sauteed zucchini, milk, salad and tiramisu.
Friday, Feb. 26 — Sesame crusted salmon with rice, sauteed broccolini and garlic, milk, salad and pear hand pie.
Monday, March 1 — Lemon garlic chicken tortellini soup, zucchini sticks baked with panko, avocado toast, milk and salad.
Tuesday, March 2 — Green goddess sandwich, potato salad, milk, salad and strawberry shortcake.
Wednesday, March 3 — Pork medallions, sauteed spinach, cornbread with butter, milk and salad.
Thursday, March 4 — Baked cod with fennel and leek sauce, cauliflower mashed, milk, salad and dessert.
Reservations and cancellations are required. You can make a reservation at 264-2167 by 9 a.m. the morning of the day you would like to drive through and pick up a meal.
For your convenience, you can make your reservations in advance or have a standing reservation on days you know you will always pick up. Please cancel if you cannot attend on your standing reservation days. We want to thank everyone for their support by observing our reservation policy. This helps ensure that everyone with reservations receives a meal and enables us to provide additional and healthier meals.
Due to COVID-19, food supplies have been affected. Substitutions will be made accordingly.