Meals on Wheels & More kitchen manager Shontez Wynn says feeding the program's clients in Morgan County has been a rewarding experience.
"I think the clients are just grateful to know that someone really cares enough to make sure they can at least have one hot meal a week," Wynn said. "That gives me the motivation to put my heart into preparing the food in hopes that someone is being blessed and nurtured."
To help Meals on Wheels & More of Morgan County serve local residents, The Daily is accepting financial contributions through March 10 for the program, which is operated by the Community Action Partnership of North Alabama. With delivery limited to once per week during the pandemic, the program provides a meal and care package each Wednesday to 254 disabled, elderly and homebound Morgan County residents.
Wynn said delivery five days a week will resume when it's safe.
"Most of our volunteers were retired citizens giving back to the community. Due to the risk of the pandemic, age factor, underlying health conditions and the great number of COVID-19 cases daily, a lot of our volunteers made the decision not to put themselves at risk by delivering. That is when the decision was made to reduce our delivery day in order to keep everyone safe as possible," Wynn said.
"Getting enough people vaccinated to grant immunity to COVID-19 would be the key to getting close to five days again."
Hartselle native Donald Waddell, 70, has been among Meals on Wheels recipients at various times for a total of about five years and says the program comes in handy.
"The food is good food," Waddell said. "It's a balanced meal. I do buy my groceries some, but it fills in the gaps when I run short."
Wynn said each hot meal consists of a meat, two vegetables and a dessert such as canned fruit or pudding. "We also utilize donated baked items from Publix for dessert options as well," she said.
Wynn said the foods included are chosen based on nutritional value, cost and preparation time.
"We don't cook to a specific dietary need, but I do keep in mind the need to be healthy," Wynn said. "I do not cook a lot of foods that require much seasoning such as salt."
Wynn said some foods are served more often based on the season.
"(During the) winter I provide the clients with homemade soups, and pasta dishes," Wynn said. "(During the) summer I provide sandwich type meals, tuna salads, foods that are not so heavy to eat during the hot weather.
Wynn said several clients have told her which foods they especially enjoyed.
"The homemade vegetable soup, taco soup, chicken stir fry, tuna salad, hamburgers, fish sandwich, mashed potato, broccoli cheese, hamburger steak," Wynn said. "That's just to name a few of the items I have gotten a call about."
Waddell said he has also benefited from items included in the care packages during the pandemic.
"Stuff I can fix myself like ... macaroni and cheese, I got the creamed potatoes a couple of times and some canned green beans, canned corn ... usually it helps out. I'm on fixed income and trying to pay my light bill and gas bill and phone bill. ... It helps out."
Meals were unable to be delivered Feb. 17 when icy conditions limited access to roads.
"When I wasn't able to send food to the clients ... due to the inclement weather, I was heartbroken," Wynn said. "I'm very sincere about my job and the people that we serve. In these trying times, we all need somebody."
"The company means almost as much as the food," Waddell said. "The volunteers who deliver are very good people. They're like friends."
Anyone interested in volunteering with Meals on Wheels can contact Cindy Anderson, CAPNA director of community services, at email@example.com or 256-260-3103.