1998: Meals on Wheels for Delaware County
SourcePoint’s nutrition program can trace its roots all the way back to the 1980s when Grady Memorial Hospital received a federal grant to provide lunches to local seniors. After the passage of the aging services levy in 1994, SourcePoint began to augment this funding in order to help the hospital expand the service. At the time, the hospital was cooking and serving about 30,000 meals each year. In 1998, the hospital asked SourcePoint to take on the day-to-day management of the program, which by then had expanded to nearly 85,000 meals each year. In 2004, SourcePoint assumed responsibility of the program at Asbury United Methodist Church to become the only Meals on Wheels provider in Delaware County. By 2005, we expanded our Meals on Wheels program through a continuing United Way grant to include homebound individuals under 60 years old who are unable to prepare meals for themselves. During this time, SourcePoint continued to purchase meals from Grady until the program outgrew available space at the hospital. In December of 2007, SourcePoint began cooking meals for the first time, made possible by the opening of a large production kitchen at the new facility on Cheshire Road. SourcePoint’s Meals on Wheels are delivered by a team of dedicated volunteers who, in 2016, delivered more than 200,000 meals.
From the very beginning we have recognized the importance of good nutrition to the health and well being of older adults in our community. Studies have shown that up to 50 percent of older adults entering the hospital are malnourished, so the delivery of nutritious meals to those unable to prepare a meal for themselves has always been a priority for us. When you live alone, as many of our clients do, it is very easy to fall into the habit of cereal for breakfast, soup for lunch, and tea and toast for dinner. For some of our clients even that task is a real chore—in a very real sense our Meals on Wheels program is saving lives.
SourcePoint’s Meals on Wheels program has undergone a tremendous evolution from the early days of providing grants to the Grady Memorial Hospital and Asbury United Methodist Church, to undertaking the management of the program, to then assuming the monumental task of cooking and delivering more than 200,000 meals a year. I remember how daunting it was for us when we first opened our own kitchen and started cooking all of the meals. Before this, we had never cooked a single meal and then we had to produce 16,000 meals in our first month of operation. In addition, all of our volunteers had to get used to a new building, new processes, and all new routes coming from a new location on Cheshire Road. Looking back, it took a huge leap of faith to think that we could pull it all off. But with a team of dedicated staff and volunteers, we did it!
Certainly, our ability to expand the program from our new kitchen has made all of the worry and work worthwhile. Amazingly, we are now able to offer nine different daily menus, including some specialty diets. We are now able to cook more than 80 percent of the food from scratch, which not only allows us to improve the nutrient value of our meals, we think it tastes much better, too.
As the number of meals to be delivered has grown each year so has the number of dedicated volunteers. These wonderful folks make all the difference in the world. They make sure that the food is delivered hot. They also offer a big smile and a real sense of security that someone will be checking in on a daily basis. I am so proud of all of the people who have built and supported this program since the early 80s. Through the dedicated hard work of all involved at Grady Memorial Hospital, the Asbury United Methodist Church and now at SourcePoint, thousands of lives have been impacted in the most positive of ways. I salute you all.