Meals on Wheels provides essential services to Vt. seniors

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) – March is right around the corner, and with that is the 22nd Annual March for Meals, a national fundraiser and day of advocacy encouraging Congress to continue to invest in Meals on Wheels. In Vermont, the volunteers delivering the food to seniors say the service is about so much more than just meals.

For folks like Sandi Eldred of Burlington, meal deliveries are vital for more than just nutrition.

“it’s nice to have someone to talk to and sometimes suggestions when I have a problem,” Eldred said. “It’s just really nice to communicate with another person. My husband died in 2022 and I just stopped eating.”

For others like Elaine Elizabeth, it’s a burden lifted. “I like to eat but I don’t like to cook,” said the Burlington woman.

Age Well. the state-designated agency that serves seniors in northwestern Vermont, is the largest provider of Meals on Wheels in the state.

“We can provide a year’s worth of Meals on Wheels to an individual for about the same cost as just one day in the hospital,” said the group’s Tracey Shamberger. She says they provide over 270,000 home-delivered meals annually. More than 800 community volunteers deliver five days a week in Addison, Franklin, Grand Isle, and Chittenden Counties.

Volunteer Ruth Wallman says the benefits are mutual. “We do get to know each other after a while. Part of our job is to do a check-in, so it’s not just delivery of the meal,” she said.

Shamberger says funding for the program is critical and that thousands of Vermonters rely on the service. “If they did not have Meals on Wheels, they quite literally may not be able to stay at home because these are individuals that are vulnerable,” she said.

Volunteers also say if people don’t have the means to heat their meals, Age Well has worked on ways to get an appliance to those who need it.

People in need of services can call the statewide Helpline at 1-800-642-5119.

Written by Jessica Tara for

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