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D-F Meals on Wheels and The Salvation Army to introduce home-delivered groceries

Submitted Photo Dunkirk-Fredonia Meals on Wheels and The Salvation Army are teaming up to introduce a mobile food pantry program. Pictured from left are: Mark Emke, DFMOW driver, Samantha Lockard, lieutenant, The Salvation Army; Linnea Carlson, basic needs coordinator, The Salvation Army; and Debra Pacos, executive director, D-F Meals on Wheels.

In an effort to expand its assistance to more hungry seniors, Dunkirk-Fredonia Meals on Wheels is pleased to announce that it will launch a monthly mobile food pantry program in early 2017. The mobile pantry will not replace the agency’s home-delivered meal program; rather, it is designed to enhance services the agency already provides to seniors with limited mobility.

“Seniors face a number of unique medical and mobility challenges that put them at a greater risk of hunger,” said Debra Pacos, executive director, Dunkirk-Fredonia Meals on Wheels. “After a lifetime of hard work, many seniors find themselves struggling with health issues on fixed incomes. Sometimes they are forced to choose between buying groceries and buying medicine.”

The risk for malnutrition is high for many seniors, especially for seniors who don’t have enough income to buy food, are isolated, or suffer from illness or other conditions that affect independence.

Proper nutrition in older adults has many benefits, including:

¯ Maintaining health and well-being

¯ Improving the body’s ability to heal

¯ Reducing risk for medical and surgical complications

¯ Improving recovery from traumas and reducing the likelihood of hospital readmission

To that end, The Salvation Army of Dunkirk and Dunkirk-Fredonia Meals on Wheels recently reached a collaborative agreement that will allow Meals on Wheels clients who need additional food supplies to access a variety of items from The Salvation Army’s food pantry.  The groceries will be delivered directly to their homes by Dunkirk-Fredonia Meals on Wheels volunteers.

The idea of a mobile food pantry came to fruition after discussions between the two agencies. While The Salvation Army of Dunkirk serves a number of hungry families at its food pantry, it determined that it wasn’t making the impact it could for the community’s seniors.

Dunkirk-Fredonia Meals on Wheels proposed a mobile food pantry as a way to help fill empty cupboards and provide seniors with a variety of the foods they enjoy that may not be on its “regular menu.”

“Seniors often don’t have the means to make it to our pantry,” said Samantha Lockard, Lieutenant with The Salvation Army. “With the help of our volunteers and those at Dunkirk-Fredonia Meals on Wheels we will soon be able to bring the pantry directly to them.”

Because food selections vary month to month, “shopping lists” will be distributed to seniors who are enrolled in the service so they can make choices that meet their specific needs. To be considered for the home-delivered groceries program, clients must submit an application. Applications will be reviewed to determine eligibility according to established guidelines.

“When you are 84 years old and you can’t drive anymore, a service like this makes such a difference,” said a current Meals on Wheels client. “I like to snack, and I still enjoy cooking a little bit. The mobile food pantry will make it easier to do both.”

The mobile food pantry program provides a safe and convenient method to access nutritious food without having to stretch limited food budgets. The pantry is stocked with shelf-stable items such as rice, canned protein, pasta, and breakfast items, as well as fresh vegetables, fruits, bread, meat and poultry.

“As a senior, many times you are put into a position to have to stretch out meals due to a fixed income,” said Pacos. “A mobile food pantry allows for more and healthier options right in the comfort of our clients’ homes.  We are grateful to The Salvation Army of Dunkirk for collaborating with us to bring a much-needed service to our area.”

Clients also have the option to take advantage of the services of a registered dietitian through the Chautauqua County Office for the Aging. Menu planning, counseling, and education are tailored to help Meals on Wheels clients meet their individual nutritional needs.

Dunkirk-Fredonia Meals on Wheels is supported by a corps of more than 60 volunteers who deliver hot, nutritious meals, warm smiles and a safety check that helps keep over 300 seniors healthy, safe and living independently in their own homes each year.

Some volunteers come to the program through RSVP, or Retired Senior Volunteer Program and many have found that it’s a great volunteer opportunity for families and teams of employees as well. Volunteers are also being recruited for the mobile food pantry program, which will begin monthly delivery in early 2017.

A United Way Community Partner, Meals on Wheels also receives support for its programs and operations from the Chautauqua County Office for the Aging, Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation, area service organizations, churches and individual donors.

For more information about how you can help bring nutrition and independence to more of our senior neighbors, phone Dunkirk-Fredonia Meals on Wheels at 366-8822, or email to dpacosdfmow@netsync.net.

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