By Jeanne E. Fredriksen
Meals on Wheels America launched its 14th Annual March for Meals on March 1 – and the month-long celebration’s observance in Rolesville and Wake Forest got a mid-month boost from some local dignitaries.
March for Meals is designed to unite communities coast to coast around the vulnerable seniors who rely on its vital safety net to remain healthier and independent in their own homes.
On Monday, March 14, Rolesville Police Chief Bobby Langston and Rolesville Police Department Administrative Support Specialist Christina Rocha helped the local effort by delivering meals within the town’s jurisdiction.
“We invited people at the local level to deliver meals and become more involved with our program,” said Mary Kate Keith, Director of Development & Communications, Meals on Wheels of Wake County. “We had several local dignitaries make meal deliveries.”
Also on March 14, Wake Forest Police Chief Jeff Leonard delivered meals to Wake Forest recipients, as did Wake Forest Mayor Vivian Jones on March 15.
“Meals on Wheels of America has the program going on across the country, and the week of March 14 is our big push to get local celebrities to deliver meals,” said Marlene Silva, Assistant Director of Program Services, Home Delivered. “For example, in downtown Raleigh we had [novelist and former Secretary of the N.C. Department of Transportation] Tony Tata and Secretary of State Elaine Marshall and others delivering meals. Letters went out to every township asking for police, fire, mayors, commissioners to be involved in this program. Chief Langston stepped up and said he’d deliver, so he’s our local dignitary in Rolesville.”
The sight of the police driving up to one’s home unannounced might be unsettling to some, but Silva explained organizers decided not to call people to alert them that the dignitaries would be delivering meals. They didn’t want to frighten the recipients, but they also didn’t want them to do anything differently because someone important to the community would be coming to their homes.
Meals on Wheels America created the March for Meals as a way to commemorate the month in 1972 when President Nixon signed into law a measure that amended the Older Americans Act and established a national nutrition program for seniors 60 years and older. Since 2002, the March for Meals has grown into a full-scale awareness, fundraising and volunteer recruitment campaign involving and supporting the network of local Meals on Wheels programs.
“More than ever, community organizations, businesses, all levels of government and concerned individuals must join forces to meet the needs of the fastest growing segment of the population in America,” said Meals on Wheels America President and CEO Ellie Hollander. “It not only makes economic sense to support the Meals on Wheels model that for decades has enabled seniors to stay more nourished, independent and safe at home, but it improves the health and vibrancy of our communities and our nation at large.”
ABOUT MEALS ON WHEELS
Meals on Wheels America is the oldest and largest national organization supporting the more than 5,000 community-based programs across the country that are dedicated to addressing senior isolation and hunger. This network exists in virtually every community in America and, along with more than 2 million staff and volunteers, delivers the nutritious meals, friendly visits and safety checks that enable America’s seniors to live nourished lives with independence and dignity.
By providing funding, leadership, education, research and advocacy support, Meals on Wheels America empowers its local member programs to strengthen their communities, one senior at a time. For more information about how an elderly loved one can receive meals or to learn about volunteering your time to Meals on Wheels in your community, go to www.wakemow.org.