LANSING - Many people have the privilege of making their own meals or going out to eat whenever there hungry. A growing number of seniors in the community no long have that privilege and seek out help with making sure they receive daily nutrition. The Tri-County Office of Aging offers a Home Delivered Meal Service, but that service doesn't operate without the help of volunteers.
For Meals on Wheels Volunteer Thomas Harpstead, his involvement with the program started with his aunt who lived in Wisconsin and participated in delivering Meals on Wheel. “She was you know getting to the point in her life where she kind of had to stop doing it and I thought well maybe I can pick up the baton for the family and you know do it here," explained Harpstead. It's now been over 20 years since Harpstead began and continues to deliver Meals on Wheels once a month to seniors in East Lansing and Meridian Township.
The Tri-County Office of Aging is in need of more volunteers to help deliver Meals on Wheels. Nutrition Director Carl Buonodono explained a significant amount of volunteers is needed to make the program run smoothly. "Umm yesterday when I checked it was 1,372. We need 1,800," said Buonodono.
Meals on Wheels Volunteers help deliver meals for at least one hour, once a month. Buonodono shared that the more volunteers they have, the smaller the delivery routes become, giving volunteers more time to build relationships with the seniors in their community. “It’s not just about the nutrition, explained Buonodono, "it's about the relationship and letting the seniors in our community know that we care.”
Volunteers deliver meals during lunchtime hours of the day. For many volunteers that means skipping lunch to make sure seniors in the community receive their lunch. When asked about how he feels about sacrificing his lunchtime Harpstead said, “Well there is no sacrifice. You know, it takes all of maybe 15 seconds of planning to accommodate one lunch time a month.”
Along with delivery volunteers, Meals on Wheels also has a need for kitchen volunteers. Interested residents are encouraged to visit the Tri-County Office of Aging's website to fill out an application. Applicants will hear back from the office within 24 to 48 hours.