By Terry Groover
For dozens of residents, Yukon’s Mobile Meal service is a lifesaver.
“It is for homebound people who are unable to fix their own meals,” said Joanne Oltmanns, who leads the program that began in June 1975.
Each day, volunteers load their vehicles with ice chests filled with nutritious meals that are delivered to an average of 80 people throughout the community.
Most of the recipients are at least 70 years old, though there is no age restriction.
“In June 1975, we started out serving nine meals. Our average now is 80 plus. We’ve served as many as 90 in one day, and very rarely does our count go under 80,” Oltmanns said.
Meals typically include an entree, vegetable, dessert, fruit and a roll. The menu meets guidelines that were developed by a dietician who volunteers for the organization.
Meals cost about $1.25 per day and are provided Monday through Friday, with a goodie bag provided for the weekend. A month of meals cost $30 per month, and sponsors often help cover the costs for those unable to pay for the meals. The donations are tax-deductible, Oltmanns said.
There is a process to apply for the program, but rarely is anyone turned down.
“We’d rather err on the side of being wrong than turn someone down who might really need the meal,” Oltmanns said.
She also said there is not a waiting list, and in most cases, names can be added within a matter of days.
The program is about more than meals. The volunteers who deliver the meals provide a connection for many of the residents, Oltmanns said.
“It is a checkpoint on these people. The drivers or volunteers are the only person they see that day or possible that week,” she said. “If they don’t answer the door and they haven’t called us … we take the next step to find out if they are OK.”
Volunteers are key
The volunteers are an important part of the program, Oltmanns said. There are more than 75 active volunteers participating, but more are always welcome.
Oltmanns said most volunteers participate once a week.
Wayne Davis is among the volunteers. He said he had been participating in the program for more than a year.
“I love it,” Davis said.
Funding for the program is provided by donations. A fundraiser held Wednesday raised about $2,600. That will be enough to provide about 2,080 meals.
Churches and other organizations also help by putting the program into their charitable budget, Oltmanns said.
“We are always looking for sponsors,” she said.
To sponsor the program or volunteer, contact Oltmanns at 350-5900.