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MEALS ON WHEELS BLOG

 

VOLUNTEERS HELP TO KEEP OUR WHEELS SPINNING!

POSTED ON AUGUST 4, 2014 BY VOLUNTEER SERVICES


For many, the most iconic image they associate with Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland is a cheerful volunteer taking our meals to a client’s door. The smiling face and the caring hands that give our clients their food is part of what makes us “more than a meal.” However, with several hundred volunteers giving their time willingly each day, it is no secret that volunteering with Meals on Wheels is also “more than just a volunteer opportunity!” From meal packing to delivery, volunteers have many different chances to get involved, and there is something for everyone.

Take, for example, a group that frequently volunteers in our kitchen as a part of a program called “Workwise.” Any group of ten or less can volunteer to pack meals Monday through Friday in our central kitchen, but this Workwise group is very special. Each participant in this program is a recent refugee, going through classes to learn English as well as skills that will help them work in the United States. Baltimore City Community College and Lutheran Social Services partnered together to create this chance to learn technical skills, basic English and numeracy skills, as well as key workplace values.

Since 2013, Workwise has volunteered over 3,500 hours at organizations like Meals on Wheels in the Baltimore area. When it comes to Meals on Wheels, students have been able to gain experience in the skills our kitchen staff utilize every day, and they can take these skills with them to their new lives after graduating from the program. But, in the end, what we can provide for them does not compare to what they provide for us, as they help to make Meals on Wheels “more than a meal!

To learn more about becoming a volunteer as an individual or with a group, please contact Volunteer Services at 443-573-0926 or by clicking here.

 

“CLIENT SERVICES INTERNSHIPS - ANOTHER SPOKE IN OUR WHEEL OF SUCCESS”

POSTED ON July 1, 2014 FRom STACY PAYTON, METRO REGIONAL MANAGER


Our work environment at Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland is extremely busy, but very rewarding! And, for students that complete an internship with my colleagues in Client Services or any another department, we offer the opportunity to obtain excellent, real world experience, while making an extremely important difference in the lives of both our senior and homebound neighbors.

Since Meals on Wheels is committed to ensuring that every intern receive the kind of experience critical to their personal development, career building and networking skills, my colleagues view each and every internship as slightly different and unique and tailored to the specific need of the intern.

The Client Services team has had over 108 interns since we started our specific program in 2010. Schools include (but are not limited to): University of Maryland, UMBC, Bowie State University, Sojourner Douglass College, Johns Hopkins University, Towson University, Goucher College & Coppin College. Many of our interns have continued on successful careers path in social work, continuing graduate studies and more. And, a few of our interns have become full-time staff members.

Below is one such story by Elizabeth Sebastiao, Client Liasion/Metro Region:

I started volunteering in the summer of 2012 for Meals on Wheels solely because I wanted to stay busy, but it definitely turned into so much more! Coming to Meals on Wheels was a distraction for me and was almost like therapy during some hard times for me and my family. The amount of kindness that I felt from everyone at Meals on Wheels was so strong that I decided to stay in the fall to complete 209 hours for my internship for the Management of Aging Services major at UMBC.

My internship experience was well rounded and included: conducting home assessment visits, client intake, phone assessments and, most importantly, allowed me to witness firsthand how thankful the clients were for all the services that Meals on Wheels provides on a daily basis.

When my internship ended, I continued to come into the office to volunteer and within a couple weeks I was offered the position of Client Liaison, which was a newly created position. I gladly accepted the position and have been a “spoke in the wheel” ever since!

To learn more about potential internship opportunities in the Client Services department, please contact Barbara Levin at service@mowcm.org or at 443-573-0946.

Next month, learn more about our individual and group volunteer opportunities and their impact on our program and services. Until then…stay cool!

 

“ADD MORE VEGETABLES TO YOUR DAY!”

POSTED ON Feb 25, 2014 FRom kathy tinker, food service director


It’s easy to eat more vegetables! Eating vegetables provides nutrients vital for health and maintenance of your body. Research shows that the nutrients and minerals found in vegetables may reduce the risk of certain diseases, increase brain power, and are low in fat and calories! 

Here are some fun facts and simple ways to fit more vegetables in your meals. It’s easier than you think!

  • Brighten your salad by using colorful vegetables such as red bell peppers, black beans, radishes, and cucumbers and carrots.
  • Celery contains around 10 calories -- it takes more calories to eat a stalk of celery than it contains, which makes it a great snack for losing weight fast!
  • Try different spices, seasonings and flavored oils when cooking vegetables for tasty varieties.
  • Tomatoes that are stored at room temperatures are more flavorful and nutrient filled than those stored in the refrigerator.
  • Frozen vegetables are quick and easy to use and are just as nutritious as fresh vegetables. Try adding frozen cauliflower, spinach, or sugar snap peas to your favorite dishes.
  • Most of us do not know that the top green leaves of the beets are edible and they are the most nutritious part of beets. We can boil the leaves lightly and eat.       
  • Canned vegetables are a great addition to any meal, so keep on hand canned tomatoes, mushrooms, and beets. Select those labeled as “reduced sodium”,” low sodium” or “no salt added”.


Recipe

Stir Fry Asparagus

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup sweet onions
1 lb. fresh asparagus, trimmed
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
2 teaspoons of teriyaki sauce

Directions:

1.  Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Saute onions until tender. Stir in asparagus and garlic, sauté for 3-5 minutes. Drizzle with teriyaki sauce and serve immediately.

 

“NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS”

POSTED ON Jan 27, 2014 FRom STEPHANIE ARCHER-SMITH, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR


Freedom. It's a powerful word, yet one that is so often taken for granted. People live for it, people fight for it, and people are willing to die for it. 

This month with the celebration of Martin Luther King’s life we are reminded of just how important freedom is.  Important, yet taken for granted; that is, until we no longer have it. 

Although January is coming to a close, my reflection on the new year, with all it's hopefulness and renewed energy,  lingers and  the thought of freedom keeps seeping back into my psyche. 

Freedom is worth protecting; people dedicate, and at y times sacrifice their  lives for it.But what does that have to do with me?  I live in a free country; I have the freedom to live my life as I choose. Then it comes to me...What if, like so many of those we serve at Meals on Wheels, my freedom to choose how and where to live my life were threatened? 

Would I, would anyone, be willing to fight to preserve that freedom to choose?

So this year, I resolve to protect the freedom of our elderly neighbors -- the freedom to choose to remain living at home in familiar surroundings and neighborhoods, where they can continue to be part of the social fabric of that community. 

I resolve to protect their freedom to make their own life choices in their own time and on their own terms.

To do this, our Board, staff and volunteers will work hard to:

  • Truly live our mission
  • Examine our programs and activities, thoughtfully to improve service
  • Be prudent with our financial resources, looking not only to immediate need but also to our long-term health
  • Communicate our goals, priorities, and achievements to all of our stakeholders
  • Find new ways to engage and recruit volunteers to help us carry out our mission
  • Dedicate time to advocacy and coalition-building.
  • Recognize and actively engage those who support us in our work
  • And we will remember to pace ourselves, making decisions thoughtfully, and changes incrementally.


We look forward to challenging ourselves in 2014 as we continue to be “more than a meal” to the elderly population in Central Maryland.

Happy New Year!

 

“HEALING MEALS, HELPING HANDS”

POSTED ON DEC 19, 2013 FROM MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS

 

When Debbie Brown (Meals on Wheels) and Cindy Carter (The Cancer Support Foundation) attended an outreach event last November, they couldn’t believe that their paths hadn’t crossed sooner.

Cindy is an incredible advocate for cancer patients throughout Maryland and one area of concerned for her was making sure her clients were receiving proper nutrition during their treatments along with their family members; when needed.   “She (Debbie) was the key to what I had been looking for,” said Cindy Carter, Executive Director, Cancer Support Foundation.   The two spent time that day talking about what type of program the two non -profits could create.  Debbie couldn’t wait to get back to the office and share the news since Meals on Wheels had recently discussed the idea of starting a frozen meal program.  

Meetings were set up between Meals on Wheels and the Cancer Support Foundation and Cindy was able to introduce another important player to the proposed program:  Franklin Square Hospital.  Toni Gianforti, Meals on Wheels grant writer, secured a grant from the Komen Foundation and another Komen grant was awarded to Cindy’s group.  Franklin Square Hospital introduced another partner to the program:  Kelly’s Dream.  And,

And, now that all the players were in place, a program was created:   Healing Meals, Helping Hands.

Today, Meals on Wheels serves 12 breast cancer patients that have been referred to the Healing Meals, Helping Hands program via Franklin Square Hospital.  The Komen Foundation grant allows up to 200 breast cancer patients to be assisted.

Frozen, nutritious meals are delivered by Meals on Wheels drivers right to the patients door with a friendly visit.  Meals are delivered weekly, bi-weekly or bi-monthly and a variety of menus are offered.

For more information about the Healing Meals program, please contact Ms. Bunny Ebling, Franklin Square Hospital at 443-777-7395.

Click here to read a story on the program featured on Channel 2 on December 18:  http://www.abc2news.com/dpp/news/region/baltimore_city/komen-md-gives-grants-to-help-breast-cancer-patients-with-emergency-services


“ISOLATION REDUCTION PROGRAM”

POSTED ON Oct 22, 2013 FROM THE DESK OF BARBARA LEVIN, CLIENT SERVICES DIRECTOR

 

Human contact is invaluable: a kind word, a smiling face to greet us in the morning and/or someone to share the joys and struggles of life with. Can you imagine what it would be like to go through one day after another, week after week, month after month, with only the TV and four walls as your companions? Unfortunately, this is the case for many of our clients.

Nearly a quarter of the clients at Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland (MOWCM) have no family or friends to visit with them.  No one they can count on to pick up bread, cheese, juice or personal hygiene items or reminisce about old times or even a simple birthday wish.  Imagine being 90 years old and having no one you could ask how to use that newest feature on the television or to help understand what the fine print of the latest bill really says!  It truly breaks our heart to realize just how many of our clients have limited or no contact with anyone but the Meals on Wheels volunteer who delivers their meal each day.  So, we, at Meals on Wheels, are determined to address the needs of our most isolated clients through our isolation reduction plan.

The IRP (Isolation Reduction Plan) is for clients without family or other support networks to that a “lifeline” can be provided to the individual.  When a client is placed into the IRP program, MOWCM staff identify appropriate adult day care programs and senior centers, churches and synagogues as well as making attempts to reconnect with family and friends.  We also look at various transportation modules (mobility transportation, etc.) to assist the client in getting to and from the identified visit or activity.

But, perhaps the best way we reduce isolation for our clients on a daily basis, is through our own in-house volunteer programs. The Volunteer Shopper/Volunteer Companion programs pairs isolated clients with a dedicated volunteer to assist the client with shopping or regular in-person or telephone weekly visits.  We also offer a Kibble Connection program where volunteers pack and deliver pet food to clients; ensuring that our clients are able to keep their beloved animals even when money becomes tight.  And, our unique peer-to-peer Phone Pals program recognizes that our clients still have a great deal to give to society, so our Client Services team carefully connects selected clients and volunteers who talk to each other on a regular basis allow the volunteer to provide encouragement, friendship, warmth and understanding.  

The Isolation Reduction Program offers hope, joy and, more importantly to our clients, a connection to the world around them.   Personally, I want to grow old surrounded by family and friends as well as those that I trust and rely upon.   I invite you to join me, and the rest of the Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland team, as we make every effort to make sure that our homebound seniors and disabled neighbors have that, too. 

To learn more about the Isolation Reduction Program, please call toll-free: 1-866-558-0827 and ask to speak to a member of the Client Services team.  And, to learn more about becoming a volunteer, please contact Volunteer Services at 443-573-0926 or by clicking here.

 

“NO PLACE LIKE HOME”

POSTED ON SEPT 11, 2013 FROM THE DESK OF DEBBIE BROWN, MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR

Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland has been providing nutritious meals to homebound seniors and individuals in Central Maryland since 1960.  Each day we are reminded in so many ways that there really is no place like home.  Just ask Norma.  At 85 years young, Norma loves painting and drawing, especially with oils, and she surrounds herself with them in the living room of her modest apartment.  Norma has lived a full and exciting life, but sadly she has outlived her family and her savings.

Norma’s story defines what it means to Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland to be “more than a meal.”  Norma is just one of thousand of seniors who depend on nutritious meals, companionship and support services provide by Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland every day in order to remain living safely and independently in their own homes.

Surprisingly, while Maryland ranks 35th in the nation overall for food insecurity, we are 8th when it comes to senor food insecurity and nutrition.  Every day our dedicated staff, volunteers, donors and community partners work together to deliver nutritious meals, and so much more to our most vulnerable seniors.  They offer safety, security, companionship and hope.

In 2012, Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland prepared and delivered nearly 700,000 nutritious meals to seniors in our community.  More than 2,000 dedicated volunteers drove 693,676 miles in that effort, a distance equal to 28 times around the earth!

While these numbers are impressive, it is the stories behind the numbers that are truly inspiring, stories of dedication and commitment, of generosity, and stories of hope.

For those seniors who are struggling with hunger, it often means choosing between paying for medications or eating, or paying the electric bill or eating. These are trade-offs that no one should have to make, especially our most vulnerable seniors.

Of those receiving Meals on Wheels (on a national level):

  • The majority are women who are over 75 and live alone;
  • 63% have between 6 to 15 serious health conditions, such as heart disease, hypertension, arthritis, and diabetes;
  • 61% take between 6 to 26 medications; and,
  • 39% live in poverty.(1)

The profile of those seniors who are able to make it out of their home and into a congregate setting, such as a senior center, is slightly better:

  • The majority are also women who are over the age of 75 and nearly 40% live alone;
  •  40% have between 6 to 15 serious health conditions, such as those listed above;
  • 31% take between 6 to 26 medications;
  • 26% live in poverty; and,
  • 72% need help going outside. (2)


For both Meals on Wheels and congregate meal recipients, an overwhelming majority need help bathing, dressing, going to the bathroom, and managing their medications. On top of these sad realities, many of the basic necessities of daily life that we take for granted every day, such as interacting with others and having access to nutritious food, are simply not options.

And, we are merely scratching the surface on meeting the needs of this growing population.   Since the onset of the recession, the number of seniors struggling with hunger has increased in 44 states.(3)  Nationally, there are 8.3 million seniors(4) currently struggling with hunger and nationally we are providing nutritious meals to only 2.5 million.(5) The difference in those numbers is devastating—nearly 6 million American seniors are still in need of reliable, nutritious meals.  While the infrastructure exists to fill that gap, the resources are falling substantially short.

The demographic swing to an aging population is already in motion.  Baby Boomers are turning 60 at a rate of 12,000 a day. By 2030, the senior population will double to over 70 million.(6) If one in seven seniors today is struggling with hunger, it is hard to imagine 10 million seniors struggling with hunger in just 17 years.

We, at Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland, are so grateful for the generosity of so many who help make it possible for us to tell these stories and allow us to fulfill our mission:  to enable people to live independently at home through the provision of nutritious meals, personal contact and related services.  Because, after all, there is no place like home.

* This blog was originally posted on http://www.disruptivewomen.net. 

 

“MORE THAN A MEAL: SNAP PROGRAM”

POSTED ON JULY 2, 2013 FROM THE DESK OF BARBARA LEVIN, CLIENT SERVICES DIRECTOR

      Here’s an alarming fact: The majority of senior citizens who qualify for food stamps, never apply for them. Even if they’re hungry. Even if they have to fill up on starches and skip the healthier foods they should be eating. Even if they have to turn the thermostat way, way down, or skip doses of their medicine because they need to spend the little money they have on food. That goes for Meals on Wheels clients too.

      Why don’t they apply? Some don’t know about the program or think they don’t qualify. (Many spent their younger years solidly middle class, and only now in their old age find themselves struggling to make ends meet on fixed incomes.) Some find the process of applying just too overwhelming. Others find it just too embarrassing to admit they now have needs.

      Whatever the reason, Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland is determined to help. Recently, our agency was designated a Community Partner through the Maryland State FSP Outreach Plan, and funded to reach out to our homebound clients with information about, and assistance in applying for, food stamps (now called SNAP – the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). Volunteers and staff are being asked to broach the topic with each and every client we serve.

      Did you know that single individuals receiving up to $931 per month and married couples receiving up to $1281 a month may qualify for food stamps? Or that the average food stamps benefit for a senior living alone was $122? Or that seniors who spend more than $35 a month in out-of-pocket medical costs can deduct that from their income when applying for food stamps, increasing their monthly benefit?

      Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland is committed to making a difference. We accept food stamps in payment for our meals, and our staff is ready to assist clients in applying for, or recertifying for, food stamps. We’ll even go to a client’s home to help complete the application if need be.  

      I’m looking forward to a future, where all of our clients can access the food and other things they need and deserve.

To learn more about Meals on Wheels Senior Support Services, click here, or call (410) 558-0827 or 1-(866) 558-0827 TOLL FREE.

Barbara Levin, Client Services Director, will be writing a four-part series blog on "More than a Meal," which highlights the additional services that Meals on Wheels provides our homebound seniors.

 

“MORE THAN A MEAL: CASE MANAGEMENT”

POSTED ON JUNE 10, 2013 FROM THE DESK OF BARBARA LEVIN, CLIENT SERVICES DIRECTOR

      One of the most exciting things going on at Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland these days is our new targeted case management program.
      Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland clients have so many needs beyond nutrition. I can't tell you how many times our client services staff has received a call or a note from a volunteer telling us about a serious problem they discovered while delivering meals.
      We've learned of clients being abused or exploited. We've discovered clients living in homes without electricity or heat. We've found clients who can’t afford life sustaining medicines and medical care. Some of the saddest situations we encounter are those that involve seriously depressed clients confiding that they are seriously considering taking their own lives.
      The list just goes on and on. Clients facing foreclosure, clients with no food other than the meals we deliver, clients with pets that are defecating in the house because they can’t get out to walk them, clients who can’t walk who are stuck on upper floors of apartment buildings that lack elevators, clients with dementia who are unable to take care of even their most basic needs, clients who never see anyone at all other than the volunteer who delivers their meal.
      The targeted case management program makes an incredible difference for clients facing complex and challenging problems, and especially for clients without family or friends to help them search out solutions, or for those with family members who are overwhelmed by the challenges.
      Clients are referred into the program by observant volunteers or staff members. Case managers follow up with home visits, carefully evaluating each participant’s specific needs, and designing individually tailored plans to address them.
      Our case managers help clients find critical resources and help them manage the complexities of applying for them. They work with adult protective services, police, and even the courts, to address issues of abuse, neglect, and exploitation.  Case managers create isolation reduction plans, work with families, address housing issues, and provide critical information and emotional support.
      Our clients need so much, and so many have no one else that can help them; we’re proud to say we’re meeting their needs, and keeping them living successfully in the community.

To learn more about Meals on Wheels Senior Support Services, click here, or call (410) 558-0827 or 1-(866) 558-0827 TOLL FREE.

Barbara Levin, Client Services Director, will be writing a four-part series blog on "More than a Meal," which highlights the additional services that Meals on Wheels provides our homebound seniors. July will highlight SNAP (food stamp program).
 

“SEQUESTRATION AND SENIOR NUTRITION”

Posted on May 7, 2013 by Meals on Wheels STAFF

      More than eight million seniors nationwide face the threat of hunger every day. Now, due to sequestration, funding for senior nutrition has been reduced.
    Maryland will lose nearly $900,000 in funding to senior nutrition programs, which will cause our organization to have to make some changes; such as reducing meal service from five days to four. Reducing the number of meals reduces the nutrient intake for a population of people for whom proper nutrition is critical to maintaining health and independence and avoiding premature institutionalization.
    "They are not going to be healthy, they are not going to be getting food to take their medication with," said Stephanie Archer-Smith, Executive Director, Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland (MOWCM).
    Due to the cuts, we have also unfortunately reduced our workforce by five percent.
    Our organization delivers nearly 1,500 meals every day and relies strongly on our volunteers. Currently, we have 2,263 volunteers; of which 300-325 are used on any given day. Last year, the volunteers donated over 93,000 hours and drove more than 693,000 miles (28x around the Earth).

    To learn more about the effects of sequestration on Meals on Wheels, watch Fox 45 Baltimore: http://foxbaltimore.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/meals-wheels-program-affected-sequester-19354.shtml

 

“WELCOME TO THE NEW MEALS ON WHEELS WEBSITE!”

Posted on March 28, 2013 by Jonathan Wachs, President, Board of Directors

      We are happy to announce the launch of the new and dynamic Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland website. This product is the result of an extensive collaboration between our staff and our web site vendor, Blackbaud. This website will greatly improve the way we connect with our clients, volunteers, donors and the public. Please tell your friends to visit the site – and let us know what you think.
     Our new website is both visually appealing and highly functional. New features on the website make it easy for visitors to sign up to receive meals, volunteer or donate. The website allows visitors to easily change the font size of the site’s content. It also includes a complete interface re-design, rotating feature photos and a platform for secure online donations. The volunteer section of the website provides information on various volunteer opportunities for individuals, groups and businesses. The web site also includes information regarding special events, our bi-annual newsletter, Meal Times, and a blog which features updates from various departments, regional managers, volunteers, and our community partners. The website is a key component in our overall strategy to improve the ways in which we serve Maryland’s homebound population.
     We hope you find our new website has a fresh look, is easy to use and is informative. Please send any feedback you have regarding the website to Deb Brown (marketcomm@mealsonwheelsmd.org). Also, please “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and visit the website periodically for updates regarding our progress, articles, industry news and other helpful resources. Thanks for taking the time to visit our website and your interest in our organization. Our success relies on your support!