Meals on Wheels celebrates 50 years of service in Putney

PUTNEY — This month marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of Meals on Wheels in town, spearheaded by Putney Community Cares.

The nation's premier nutrition program for seniors, Meals on Wheels is designed to help people over age 60 who face challenges in preparing healthy, adequate meals due to such situations as advancing age, hospital recovery or physical disability.

In Vermont, this program is also available to people younger than age 60 through the Vermont Center for Independent Living.

For the state's aging population, Meals on Wheels is a lifeline for many, and even more so during the past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Often there is a real affection between drivers and recipients,” Putney Community Cares director Kate Kelly said in a news release. “The drivers sometimes can spend a little time with different recipients, because it's important socially. We keep emergency contact numbers handy for each recipient so we can respond to any problems.”

Kelly added that Meals on Wheels is “more than just a meal delivery service - we are checking in on some of our most vulnerable residents, making sure that they are doing well. For those who can not easily get out of their homes, our drivers are an important link to their nutritional, physical, and emotional health.”

The volunteers who assist the program agree.

“It's an important way to give back,” said volunteer Daryl Johns, who is retired but remains active driving for Meals on Wheels. “I've lived in Vermont for more than 50 years, and I see the need out there.”

The sentiment was echoed by Wendi Germain, the nutrition and wellness director of Senior Solutions, a regional agency that provides support to the program

“We so appreciate these volunteers,” she said. “I cannot overemphasize how critical it is to have public support for these programs, through both volunteerism and donations.”

Germain said that Meals on Wheels operations across Vermont rely heavily on public donations to keep them running - with more than 50 percent of the funding coming from local donations.

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