Many homebound residents of Edmond find their days brightened with a hot meal and a caring attitude from Mobile Meals volunteers.
Since 1974, Mobile Meals has been providing nourishing meals to people who can’t get out of their homes to shop for food. Today, more than 200 volunteers cook and deliver 90-100 meals each weekday. They only take off major holidays and even then, they make sure each homebound person is signed up for someone’s Thanksgiving delivery or Christmas gathering.
“This is a great group of people to work with, and I enjoy knowing we help folks that need help,” said Teresa Hoehner, director of programs for Mobile Meals.
Mobile Meals requires a team effort of volunteers of all ages, from retired to young adults. Some help every week and others once a month. Sherry Lambert, shopping coordinator, begins the process by planning balanced menus, ordering food and sending out shoppers. Julie Holbrook, cook coordinator, schedules meal preparation volunteers. Between 7:45 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. each weekday, volunteers arrive at the Mobile Meals Center at Third and Broadway to begin cooking. The food is boxed and ready for delivery by 10:30 a.m. Laura Grooms, driver coordinator, assigns volunteers to each of the seven routes. Drivers usually deliver to the same people every day so they can get to know them.
Once a month, Allen and Pam Goode drive Route 2, delivering 15 meals between 11 a.m. and noon. They are following her parents’ example to give back.
“It’s something that needs to be done,” Allen said.
Another driver, Gil DuPertuis, has volunteered for more than 25 years with his wife, Pat. She provides an extra touch by decorating individual birthday cakes for the homebound.
A hot meal is important, but Mobile Meals volunteers also make sure every homebound person is doing OK. If there is a problem or someone doesn’t answer the door, volunteers call a family contact.
“We make sure the person is OK,” Hoehner said. “One lady fell and wasn’t able to get to the phone or door, so the police were called and she received help. We don’t hesitate. If the driver thinks a person is in the house and needs help, then we call.”
Mobile Meals volunteers also provide conversation for the homebound and help with small tasks. One blind homebound woman writes poetry on big sheets, which a volunteer takes to type into a computer. Volunteers also have been known to change light bulbs or bring flowers, candy or small gifts.
During cold weather, volunteers leave “Blizzard Bags” with soup and other non-perishable items in case bad roads slow down delivery.
Several of the original volunteers for Mobile Meals still help, including Carolyn Vance. She helped start the program and still volunteers to cook. Mobile Meals was begun as a telephone ministry to check on the homebound, and then grew with the help of donations from churches. Today’s funding comes from a city grant and donations from churches, businesses and individuals. The only paid staff is the director.
To receive meals from Mobile Meals, a person must live in Edmond and be homebound. Cost is about $2 per meal for those who can pay. There is no income or age requirement. Most are senior citizens, but there are some younger people with illnesses or disabilities. For more information, call the Mobile Meals Center at 341-3111.