Meals on Wheels will celebrate its 43rd anniversary with a new kitchen and a new schedule.
Various food establishments have taken care of preparing the meals necessary for Meals on Wheels clients over the years. Country Kitchen handled it most recently, and is now passing the torch to The Cypress at Chances Rim Rock, whose chef staff will now prepare meals for clients. Because The Cypress is closed on Mondays, Meals on Wheels will now deliver meals Tuesday through Saturday.
Meals on Wheels was first started by Helen Patenaude on Nov. 24, 1972. It ran under the financial umbrella of the Family Guidance Association with Beth Lawrence, assisted by Eleanor Yates, as the first coordinators. There were three volunteer drivers and six clients at the outset but before long there were 16 clients.
Ardis Pearce, Connie Stewart and Kay Wallace were the drivers in those early years. The dinners were assembled and boxed from the kitchen of West Coast General Hospital three times a week. Everything was done on a volunteer basis and the clients paid $1.00 each for their meals to cover the cost of the food.
In 1975, Lawrence moved to the mainland and Nita Wiltse took over as coordinator. At that time the cost of meals was increased to $1.25. In 1979 the meals started being delivered from Fir Park Village.
As a registered society, funding became available through the Ministry of Health. Since then, funding is obtained through grants from Island Health and community gaming grant. Clients also pay for meals and Meals on Wheels relies on the generosity of individuals and community organizations.
More than 250 meals are delivered on a weekly basis, usually between 4–5 p.m. from Tuesday to Saturday.
Meals on Wheels operates with a pool of about 45 drivers. New drivers are always welcome. If you are interested in donating just an hour and 15 minutes of your time once per week, contact Janet at 250-730-3090 or portalberni mealsonwheels.com.