Claude Lavertu,, President of Board of Directors for the “Wholesome Meals on Wheels” program and Janet Buchanan, Meals Coordinator. SUBMITTED PHOTO

VALLEY SENIORS: Meals on Wheels offers assistance for home-bound

For almost 50 years, the program has delivered daily nutritious meals in Port Alberni

  • Feb. 28, 2018 6:00 a.m.


Special to the News

For decades, our community has benefitted from the “Wholesome Meals on Wheels” program, which can be traced back to the 1970’s, when this service to assist home-bound individuals in need of daily nutritious meals was created.

“Our program offers this service to more than 65 home-bound individuals, including seniors, caregivers, people recovering from surgery or to those who have chronic medical conditions,” says Janet Buchanan, the 15-year Meal Coordinator. “Most of our deliveries are within the city boundaries and close to city areas in Cherry Creek and Beaver Creek.”

Although most of the recipients of the service are seniors, there are other younger people who receive meals as well.

“Not long ago, we had a younger woman living on her own who had broken her leg,” said Buchanan. “We provided meals for her for a few weeks until recovery. Also, we have had cases of people injured in accidents who also benefit from our program”.

The history of “Wheels on Meals” began on November 24, 1972, by Hellen Patenaude, operating under the umbrella of the Family Guidance Association. At that time, the meals were prepared and boxed from the West Coast General Hospital kitchen and delivered by three volunteer drivers. The clients, six at that time, paid $1.00 each for their meals.

“With the opening of Fir Park Village, the meal preparation moved there,” said Claude Lavertu, President of the Board of Directors. “In 1981 the name ‘Meals on Wheels’ was officially changed to ‘Wholesome Meals on Wheels Association of Port Alberni, B.C.,’ and in 1984, it became a registered society. Funding was then available through the Ministry of Health and Ministry Responsible for Seniors.”

He also pointed out that the first coordinators of the program were Beth Lawrence and Eleonor Yates (assistant). Ardis Pearce, Connie Stewart and Kay Wallace were the first volunteer drivers.

Throughout the years, the number of clients has substantially increased. In fact, today this non-profit society, run by a volunteer Board of Directors, serves close to 700 meals per month, all prepared and delivered from Cypress Restaurant at Chances Rim Rock.

“The funding for the program is sourced through the Ministry of Finance via a Community Gaming Grant, a grant from the Vancouver Island Health Authority and revenues from the payments of meals paid by the clients,” said Lavertu. “We also appreciate the donations received from local individuals and organizations.”

The program relies on citizens of the Valley, who give their time and effort by delivering hundreds of meals a month. Thanks to them, the program continues to be a strong and meaningful service to those in need.

Currently, “Meals on Wheels” counts on a pool of more than 45 steady volunteer drivers who drive shifts from once a week, to those who fill in as spares. They are all trained by Buchanan, who said, “Our drivers not only deliver meals, but they add another distinctiveness to their visit, which is to use it as an opportunity for social interaction with the clients as well as to offer reassurance and comfort and to informally check on their well-being.”

This important feature allows the volunteers to know them better. And for some calendar events, such as Christmas and Easter, they deliver “goody” bags to each client.

“In appreciation for their service to the program, once a year we recognize their giving spirit by organizing a special dinner for them,” said Buchanan. “Also, they get a tax-exempt receipt for their car miles.”

In regard to the meals the clients receive, the coordinator describes what a typical menu may consist of: an entrée of meat or fish, potato, rice or pasta and fresh vegetables, plus either a salad or soup and dessert. Special nutrition and dietary needs are met, including those of diabetics. Fresh meals to cover the weekend are available for those who wish them and are included in the Friday and Saturday deliveries.

For information on how to obtain meals or become a volunteer driver, please contact the Meals Coordinator Janet Buchanan at (250) 730-0390.

Just Posted

Chaos and creativity reign at Alberni’s Rollin Art Centre

The next art exhibit at the Rollin Art Centre will be an… Continue reading

Alberni RCMP kept busy with 170 calls over May long weekend

Detachment answers calls from fatal vehicle crash to man with a gun, trailer thefts

Ucluelet shakes up emergency services, removes manager, eyes new sirens

District has eliminated Emergency and Environmental Manager position

Port Alberni’s Walk for Dog Guides has a new look, new route

Bosley’s comes on board as sponsor for May 27 event

Martin Mars waterbombers’ firefighting days are past: Coulson

The famed Martin Mars air tankers continue to draw interest from potential… Continue reading

VIDEO: After the floods, comes the cleanup as Grand Forks rebuilds

Business owners in downtown wonder how long it will take for things to go back to normal

PNE’s Summer Night Concerts by Village People, Lauper, Goo Goo Dolls, more

Mostly retro sounds at this year’s fair in Vancouver, starting Aug. 18

Notley to skip western premiers meeting today, but slams leader who’s there

Notley told reporters that B.C. Premier John Horgan is trying to shut down the Trans Mountain pipeline

No suitors emerge for pipeline project stake as Kinder Morgan deadline looms

Analysts and observers remain perplexed by Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s comment last week that “plenty of investors would be interested in taking on this project”.

Energy wells plugged as Hawaii’s volcano sends lava nearby

A spike in gas levels could prompt a mass evacuation in Hawaii

Trump seethes over Russia probe, calls for end to ‘SPYGATE’

“SPYGATE could be one of the biggest political scandals in history!” Trump said on Twitter

Grads receive BC Transit passes

BC Transit provides passes to graduating students in more than 50 communities

Philip Roth, fearless and celebrated author, dies at 85

Literary agent Andrew Wylie said Roth died Tuesday night of congestive heart failure.

Woman’s death near Tofino prompts warning about ‘unpredictable’ ocean

Ann Wittenberg was visiting Tofino for her daughter Victoria Emon’s wedding

Most Read