Meals on Wheels

By Kelly Gee in Community, Food, Health & Fitness

The VON has many outstanding programs, which enable seniors to live a vibrant, healthy and satisfying life in their own homes and in the community. One such program is Meals On Wheels (MOW).
Access to a well balanced diet is important to the support of general wellbeing at any age but essential to the health and autonomy of the senior maintaining their home and standard of living. It is well known that most processed foods have little nutritional value while Meals On Wheels meals are made fresh daily and the VON has a strict policy of not using pre-packaged sauces, mixes or desserts. When there are more than two things that cannot be pronounced on a label, it is not added to the food! Chefs for the VON use many fresh herbs and aromatics, while keeping the unhealthy fats and additives out. The meals are not only healthy but they taste fantastic as well! The MOW cooks are provided with ongoing education and consultations with dieticians to ensure that they are supplying nutrition with every meal they serve. Although the provision of meals is indeed an invaluable service the benefits of this program go far beyond just a meal plan. MOW connection to companionship, community resources and security checks ensure that the clients’ psychological and emotional needs are addressed right along with their physical ones.
One of the many successful examples of users of these VON services is Terry Carney who became a client rather reluctantly. The stigma of being dependent, a burden or a “charity case” often deters seniors from seeking out the very programs that would help them become more energetic, self -sufficient and independent individuals. Having been a man full of life, who loved to dance, Terry was often seen at the local pubs, venues and dances showing off his moves. In May 2012 a fall in which his ankle was broken, left him homebound, isolated, lonely and depressed. Terry was assessed by CCAC (Community Care Access Centre) and his Care Coordinator convinced him of the value of the Meals On Wheels program so he was persuaded to have meals delivered to him three times a week. Immediately he made connections with all the drivers and he really started to enjoy the social visit afforded to him by these individuals. Some days the volunteer driver was the only contact he had. Although Terry has two children, they reside in different countries, which allows him little contact with them.
It soon became evident that Terry could be aided by introducing him to additional VON services. He was put on the waitlist for a volunteer visitor and set up with the SMART (Seniors Maintaining Active Roles Together) in home exercise program. The SMART program helped in his physical rehabilitation while also providing him with an additional hour visit once a week. The program ended after twelve weeks and Terry was once again mobile, capable of making his own meals but he continued in the MOW program twice a week because he really enjoyed the meals and the social time at delivery. Because of the shortage of volunteer visitors at that time, the Volunteer Coordinator set up a match with a Telephone Reassurance volunteer. Joseph Clark, a company CEO and father of four, had little time for a visit, but wanting to pursue a charitable endeavor, he offered to phone. This amazing man calls Terry at least once a week, often talking for a couple of hours. He calls on his way to work from his hands free device, from his home office or from his cell while waiting at the airport. Joseph is a tribute to the outstanding volunteers the VON has and Terry looks forward to his calls and considers him a friend. In April 2013 Dave Toccalino, a volunteer driver for MOW became Terry’s volunteer visitor and now stops in once a week for at least an hour. Terry says, “Dave is such a great guy! A real friend! We always have a laugh together! His visits are often the highlight of my week! Terry has only good things to say about the VON services, particularly Joseph, Dave and the MOW VON volunteers. Having felt disrespected and sad before meeting all these amazing folks, he now is thriving in his own home.
Terry’s story is a true demonstration of how the Meals On Wheels promotes the clients overall independence and wellbeing.
For more information on Meals on Wheels or other programs offered by the VON (Victorian Order of Nurses) serving Wellington County, contact the Mount Forest office at 519-323-2330 or