A Jackson County organization has been up and rolling for 43 years.
Meals on Wheels of Seymour delivers hot, nutritious meals, prepared on-site at Schneck Medical Center, to the elderly and homebound.
The volunteers deliver Monday through Friday 52 weeks a year.
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“The only time there is no delivery is if there is an advisory to stay off of the roads,” said LuAnn Fisher, program coordinator for Meals on Wheels of Seymour.
Fisher, who lives in Seymour, has been the coordinator for about a year and has the only paid position in the organization. She also is employed as a bookkeeper at The Garage Inc. and is married to Brad Fisher.
She bills the clients, receives checks and makes sure there are volunteers scheduled for each delivery day. Another part of her job is to keep the records.
The organization recently received its own laptop through a grant from the Greater Seymour Trust Fund.
“So that way, people aren’t having to use their personal ones,” Fisher said. “If I got sick, I’d have to give my personal computer over to someone.”
For many years, the program coordinator was strictly volunteer and was in charge of all of the routes, making sure someone was there every day and running the routes.
“It got to be more than one person could handle on a volunteer basis,” said Seymour resident and board member Nancy Davis. “That’s the reason we started getting a paid employee to handle it for us.”
Davis has been involved with Meals on Wheels since 1974, the year it first began in Seymour. She is one of the longest-standing members.
Davis’ husband, Larry, accompanies her on the delivery route. There also are a few other men who deliver, so it’s not just a volunteer program for women, Davis said.
“The reason I got into it was my mother died in 1973 and I was taking meals to her at noon every day, and my family didn’t eat till in the evening,” she said. “With kids in school, getting a meal for her was a problem.”
Davis was not one of the charter members, but she was very happy to learn Meals on Wheels existed. The minute she found out about it, she joined and has been with the organization ever since.
“It’s always been a thing with me and time well spent,” she said. “There’s a good feeling you get when doing something like that.”
Davis said she has stayed with the organization for so long because she sees the need, and it is easy to be a volunteer.
“Many drivers are on a once-a-month schedule, and it takes less than an hour,” she said. “Another reason it started was to keep in contact with people because many are by themselves, and unless they have a neighbor or a child to check on them, they have no one.”
When the organization first started, route drivers were requested to make deliveries in pairs. In case there was an emergency, the delivery person wouldn’t be alone.
“After we knock on the door or ring the doorbell, we give them time to get to the door,” Fisher said. “If there is no response, we call them on the phone. Then if there is no answer, the emergency contact gets called.”
Meals on Wheels of Seymour is not federally funded. It is a Jackson County United Way member agency and currently receives $1,200 a year, which is dispersed in $300 per quarter.
“One way we receive money is through the United Way, but we also make money on the meals to keep us rolling,” Fisher said. “The hospital charges us $2.50 a meal, and we charge $4 a meal and $7 for two because we need enough money to solely survive on.
“They are making some changes at the United Way as to how they do their funding, but we did find out that we’re getting our $1,200 for next year,” she said. “We also receive money through memorials, gifts, charities and then the money we make off of the meals after we pay the hospital.”
Davis said the organization is pretty financially sound right now partially due to the hospital, which came up with the idea they could lower their cost as part of their community outreach for the hospital.
Meals on Wheels services are not just for elderly people. It also can be for people who have just had surgery and are by themselves and need short-term assistance.
“Someone might want to sign up a parent, so we’d have that person fill out an application and put down a $25 down payment,” Fisher said. “Any referral from the doctor goes to the hospital, and they coordinate setting up the day the meals will start, long term or short term.”
Fisher is trying to design a new simple pamphlet to put in area churches and doctor’s offices so people can see it when they are checking out.
If community members would like to help with Meals on Wheels, there’s always in need of drivers to deliver meals, Davis said.
Besides the more than 30 individual drivers, other groups helping deliver meals are from local industries, businesses, sororities, churches, homemakers clubs and nursing homes.
The businesses allow their employees to leave and help make deliveries, typically on their lunch hours. They coordinate that, and if one person can’t do it, then they get a sub to go instead.
“If a company wanted to jump in and have their employees be delivery drivers, they can contact us to find out how to get involved,” Fisher said.
“It’s the community helping the community. That’s why I like it so much,” she said. “The community should take care of their own, and we’re doing that with Meals on Wheels.”
Meals on Wheels of Seymour
2017 officers on the board of directors
President Julie Lemming
Vice President Sara Beal
Secretary Ashley Burbrink
Treasurer Linda Moore
Nutrition services Sarah Sparks
Program coordinator LuAnn Fisher
Meals on Wheels of Seymour delivers hot, nutritious meals, prepared on-site at Schneck Medical Center, to the elderly and homebound five days a week.
Meals can be customized based on dietary needs and doctor’s orders.
A hot meal is delivered for lunch, and a cold evening meal also is available.
Meals are provided at a minimum cost — $4 for one meal or $7 for two meals.
Volunteers deliver 52 weeks a year rain or shine.
For information, visit jacsy.org/meals.php