MOW Bratt

Ray Kellett, Dean Lafayette, MaryEllen Houk and Cynthia Fisher are part of the Brattleboro Senior Meals team that provides 3,300 meals for both Meals on Wheels and Brattleboro's congregate dining program.

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One of our biggest programs is supporting, monetarily and administratively, the local Meals on Wheels operations.

At 10 a.m. on a recent Tuesday morning, the sound of kitchen utensils and pots filled the Brattleboro Senior Center kitchen as staff and volunteers finished their meal preparations for the day and repairmen worked on the dishwasher. A volunteer efficiently sorted and filled thermal coolers with 210 food packages, the majority of which were designated for the local Meals on Wheels operation for the day. The process repeats itself, every day, five days a week.

March 2022 marks 50 years since Meals on Wheels, the nation’s premier nutrition program for seniors, was funded. And for Vermont’s aging population, it has become a lifeline for many of our neighbors.

“Last month we prepared 3,300 meals for both Meals on Wheels and our congregate dining program. The meals that we deliver go to people who could not get out of their house or prepare them on their own,” said Cynthia Fisher, the executive director of Brattleboro Senior Meals, which operates the program. “Our volunteers are an amazing team – we have close to 75 volunteer drivers and four employees who keep this going every day.”

The area served by the intrepid volunteers and staff cover a wide area, including Dummerston, Guilford, Marlboro, Vernon, in addition to Brattleboro, requiring 11 different driving routes. And as one volunteer driver put it, “We have a really great team here, and what we’re doing is critical for so many people.”

“Meals on Wheels is based on nutritional needs, but there is also the social aspect of having a friendly face come to the door,” says Wendi Germain, the Nutrition & Wellness Director of Senior Solutions, which provides substantial support to the program. “For many, these drivers may be the only face they see all week. We so appreciate these volunteers. I can not overemphasize how critical it is to have public support for these programs, through both volunteerism and donations.” Wendi noted that local Meals on Wheels operations across Vermont must raise 50 percent or more of their funding through public donations to keep them running. “Without public support, this can’t be done.”

Those wishing to volunteer drive time can contact Cynthia Fischer at 802-257-1236. Donations in honor of the 50th Anniversary year can be made by check to the Brattleboro Senior Meals and mailed to them at 207 Main St, Brattleboro VT 05301 or made through Paypal on their website at https://brattleboroseniormeals.org/

Thom Simmons is the outreach specialist for Senior Solutions, Council on Aging for Southeastern Vermont, which provides monetary and administrative support to local Meals on Wheels operations. This is the first in a series of articles commemorating the program’s 50th anniversary.