Daily Bread Feeds A Need

Published 4:24 pm Thursday, June 27, 2013

CUMBERLAND – Cumberland County Meals on Wheels is no more.

Fortunately, there are still wheels that are willing and able to deliver meals to seniors in Cumberland County.

At its height, Cumberland County Meals on Wheels provided meals to over 30 clients in the community, according to Van Petty, who was involved with the organization since its inception and was also its president for the final two years.

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But, times have changed.

In a statement released earlier this year, Meals on Wheels announced that Daily Bread would begin providing meals to its former clients.

At the time of the organization's dissolution, Petty told The Herald, they were only serving about 13 clients.

The original goal of the organization, Petty explained, was to help the handicapped and senior members of the community that may not have family members close by to keep an eye on them.

When the organization first started, almost eight years ago, it provided three hot meals a week, prepared by a local restaurant and delivered by volunteers, Petty explained.

There are several reasons that the board decided to pass the torch to Daily Bread, according to Petty.

Donations over the past few years have decreased due to the recession, he says.

Board membership is down, too. While the board started with about 13 members, Petty explained that it had dropped down to only four.

There was also a lot of redundancy with the services already being provided by Daily Bread.

Petty explained that eventually Meals On Wheels began offering five frozen meals, delivered once weekly, instead of the hot meals.

He explained that due to the length of some routes it could be difficult at times to ensure the hot meals were being kept at a food-safe temperature. It is also easier to make sure the meals meet nutritional requirements, Petty says.

However, Meals on Wheels realized that about two-thirds of the clients they were serving were also being served by Daily Bread.

In fact, Daily Bread provides the same type of meals at the same frequency.

Once the board discovered the duplication and that Daily Bread was already delivering meals along the same routes, they decided to “merge,” says Petty.

Darlene Hartley, director of Daily Bread, says she could see that Meals on Wheels was struggling. She says she offered to help if they didn't feel they were able to meet the need.

“We're all out here for the same thing,” she told The Herald.

The Daily Bread has been providing meals for individuals over the age of 60 for more than 20 years.

It serves a total of seven counties and is largely funded by state and federal grants through a contract from Piedmont Senior Resources Area Agency on Aging.

Besides delivering five meals a week to approximately 180 homebound seniors, Daily Bread also serves 150 clients at congregate sites in each county. Seniors are transported to and from the site, where they eat a meal, socialize, play games and have devotions.

Despite recent cuts in funding, Hartley states in a letter, “I am committed to not removing any seniors from this feeding program due to budget cuts.”

Petty quickly added, when speaking of the organization, “We had some good volunteers that came that unselfishly drove those distances and delivered those meals.”

He says there is one volunteer that is still delivering meals, even though it is now through Daily Bread.

The press release announcing the dissolution of Cumberland County Meals On Wheels, concludes:

“Board members, discussing the dissolution, observed that without the annual grant by the county's Board of Supervisors and the support of local churches and individuals, its work would not have been possible. Reflecting on delivery of the meals, they were unable to make even a close estimate of the number of hours and miles driven by unreimbursed volunteers over the years, but agreed that the totals must have reached into the hundreds of hours and thousands of miles.”