By MIRANDA BAINES
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
A local program, Meals on Wheels, enables elderly or disabled community members to remain independent in their own homes.
Unable to prepare their own meals, the seniors have a luncheon meal brought to them on weekdays by Meals on Wheels volunteers.
One of those volunteers is Betty Temple, a member of Calvary Episcopal Church.
“I think Meals on Wheels is a great service for the elderly and the sick in the community,” Temple said. “It’s one of the main things that makes it possible for people to stay at home when they are elderly or disabled.”
Temple delivered lunch to 90-year-old Tarboro resident Ida Eason on Tuesday. The lunch consisted of chopped pork chop, steamed rice, squash, a fresh fruit cup, orange juice, milk, butter, and a roll.
“I couldn’t do without them,” Eason said. “If I didn’t get the meals, I couldn’t stay here.”
Independent-mined Eason stays in her own home despite having health problems, and a family member close by.
“I stay and do what I want to do,” Eason said. “I don’t like to bother people.”
Eason has received Meals on Wheels for three or four years.
“A lot of times, the food is the least important thing to them; the contact is so much more,” said Meals on Wheels coordinator Barbara Barnes. “A lot of these people, we’re the only people they see every day. It’s a way of checking on them to make sure they’re okay…It’s really nice to have some outside contact.”
Like Eason, the Meals on Wheels recipients are unable to drive. They either live alone or with someone equally incapable of preparing a meal as they are, and are over the age of 60. For the shut-ins, seeing a friendly face at lunchtime Monday through Friday means a great deal.
“I think they’re all great,” said Eason, of the volunteers. Most of the volunteers are retired.
“They fall in love with these people and they’ll go back and visit on their own,” Barnes said. “It’s really an outreach program.”
Meals on Wheels serves between 35 and 40 people each day.
“We serve Tarboro, Pinetops and Princeville shut-ins,” Barnes said. “We end up serving over 2,000 a month.”
Vidant Edgecombe Hospital prepares the meals and the volunteers deliver them. Princeville and Pinetops have their own volunteers. In Tarboro, volunteers rotate between four different churches – Howard Memorial Presbyterian the first week of the month, First Baptist Church the second week, Saint James Methodist the third week and Calvary Episcopal the fourth week.
Members of the Meals on Wheels board of directors do the delivers the fifth week of the month.
All Meals on Wheels contributions are local; the group receives no government funding.
“We get contributions from United Way, churches and civic groups, private donations,” Barnes said. “The client has to contribute, also. It’s based on income.”
The Meals on Wheels program began in the area on Feb. 14, 1983. The program served 14 meals that day. The program has grown since then, and volunteers from Keihin Carolina System Technology and Hillshire Brands have gotten involved. Barnhill Contracting has a tradition of delivering the Meals on Wheels in the case of snow or ice.
“They step up and deliver for us so our retired people don’t have to get out in the bad weather,” Barnes said.
For more information about Meals on Wheels, call 823-8411.