Special delivery: Bringing meals with a smile
Published 12:52 pm Thursday, November 5, 2015
Undeterred by a damp and dreary day, 94-year-old Aubrey Holman smiles as he accepts a box of home-delivered meals from a Piedmont Senior Resources driver.
“If it wasn’t for the weather, he’d be outside waiting for the van,” Holman’s daughter and caregiver Maebelle Brown said.
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Holman is one of approximately 375 senior citizens currently receiving home-delivered meals in the seven county district Piedmont Senior Resources (PSR) serves. Those counties include Amelia, Buckingham, Cumberland, Charlotte, Lunenburg, Nottoway and Prince Edward.
“These meals are a blessing,” Brown said of the five frozen meals her father will enjoy during the week.
Holman, who worked for Kyanite Mining Corp. until he was 70 years old, no longer cares for sandwiches.
“He packed sandwiches all those years when he worked at Kyanite,” his daughter said. “Now he eats three meals a day from a plate. We utilize every bit of these (PSR) meals — he especially likes the chicken and turkey.”
Like most PSR clients, Brown heard about PSR’s meal delivery program from a friend.
“Most of our referrals come from family and friends, the medical community, the VA hospital in Richmond and Centra Home Health,” PSR’s Nutrition and Transportation Manager Cindy Cave said.
“The first day after I called about it, they delivered meals,” Brown said.
PSR’s home delivery list includes seniors age 60 or older who are not independently mobile.
“We deliver a box of five different frozen meals once a week,” Cave said. “Typically there is no charge if the client falls within the federal poverty guidelines.”
The home delivery and nutritional service PSR provides is state and federally funded.
“Our first preference is that seniors attend our Friendship Cafes,” Cave said. “Seniors that can drive will drive themselves. Those who can’t drive, we provide transportation for them.”
A Friendship Cafe meets in each of the seven counties once a week; they are designed to provide social interaction as well as nutritious meals.
“From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. we have social activities and exercise, and we usually have a program of some sort,” Cave said. “Then we have lunch and games, and at 2 p.m. we take them back home. We want seniors to be active.”
The Friendship Café schedule is as follows: Monday-SCOPE Center in Farmville; Tuesday-Lunenburg Senior Center in Victoria and Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Buckingham; Wednesday-Crossroads in Prospect and Crewe Community Center in Nottoway; Thursday-Russell Grove School in Amelia; and Friday-Payne United Methodist Church in Cumberland.
“Seniors that drive can conceivably have social interaction and meet new friends every day,” Cave said.
PSR uses a fleet of eight vehicles to maintain its home delivery and Friendship Café services.
“We have two freezer vans, one cargo van, two passenger vans and three passenger buses,” Cave said.
Meals are prepared and frozen by GA Foods that offers meals for seniors and Meals on Wheels programs nationwide.
“The meals are all low-salt and heart-healthy,” Cave said. “I would say 98 percent of our clients have some sort of heart risk or high blood pressure. The next closest malady is diabetes.”
Cave, who has sampled the meals, described them as tasty.
“At the Buckingham Friendship Café recently they had sesame chicken,” she said. “The sauce was really good — every plate was empty.”
Whole wheat bread, milk and juice are added to both home delivered and café meals. Three times a year PSR also delivers emergency meals.
“These are non-refrigerated, shelf-stable mini meals that we deliver in preparation for bad weather,” Cave said. “If schools are closed because of weather, we also close.”
Four months ago PSR added a monthly frozen breakfast box delivery.
“It’s a nice treat,” Cave said.
Drivers leave the PSR office in Farmville at 7:30 a.m. Monday through Friday to make deliveries — a different county or counties each day.
“Our drivers are great,” Cave said. “It’s sad, but our driver may be the only face a client sees in a day if not a week.”
“I love doing this,” PSR driver Jim Christie said. “I see it as my ministry.”
PSR drivers are also a source of help in case of emergency.
“A driver who was delivering to a lady in Charlotte County had no response when he knocked on her door, but he thought he heard a something,” Cave said. “When he finished his route that day something told him to come back to her house. He found that the lady had had a stroke.”
The driver and a neighbor called the rescue squad and waited until they arrived.
“I told that driver he probably saved a life that day,” Cave said.
PSR drivers know that many clients, like Holman and his daughter Maebelle Brown, see the meals as “a real lifesaver for the family.”
“You can tell the food is good,” Brown said. “My father looks forward to it. He can’t see well, but his mind is good. My priority is taking care of my dad — and these meals really help.”
Holman, the oldest member of Ridgeway Baptist Church, still attends church every Sunday.
“He blesses his food every day,” his daughter said. “And these meals are a blessing — a real blessing.”
Piedmont Senior Resources provides a variety of services for senior citizens over the age of 60. For further information call (434)767-5588.