By Chris Gregory, Managing Editor

Three times each week, volunteers gather at the Trousdale County Senior Center to deliver food to the elderly in Trousdale County as part of the Meals on Wheels program.

Administered by Mid-Cumberland Community Action Agency, Meals on Wheels serves almost 40 clients each week, providing meals daily from Monday through Friday.

“On Monday and Wednesday, they get a hot meal and a cold meal for Tuesday and Thursday,” said program manager Ruby Pitre. “Then on Friday, they get a hot meal.”

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Meals on Wheels director Ruby Pitre puts together a meal prior to packaging. Hartsville’s Meals on Wheels program delivered almost 7,000 meals to seniors last year.

Pitre provided a menu list for March that shows what Meals on Wheels customers get each day. A hot meal contained items such as meatloaf, roast beef & gravy and fajita chicken, while cold meals contained items such as chicken salad, chef salad, pasta salad, ham & Swiss sandwiches and egg salad.

“They get a milk, a bread, a dessert, a starch, a vegetable and meat,” Pitre said. “It’s a well-balanced meal and we have nutritionists who make sure they get the most nutrition they can.”

Meals are also prepped as needed for clients who are diabetic or have other dietary requirements. Clients are provided a menu each month so they know what to expect.

Meals on Wheels is available to anyone over the age of 60 who needs assistance in preparing food, whether because of mobility, financial or other reasons. There is no income requirement. Temporary assistance is also offered, for instance to someone who has had surgery and cannot do things for themselves for a short time.

“If they are 60 or over and can not feed themselves without help, we will make sure they get help,” Pitre said.

According to information provided by Mid-Cumberland, one in five seniors in Tennessee goes hungry on a regular basis, and the group estimates that 314 seniors in Trousdale County are considered at risk of hunger.

Tennessee also has the fourth-highest rate of any state in the percentage of hungry seniors, with 30 percent choosing between food or medicine and 35 percent choosing between food and utilities.

Meals on Wheels has 19 volunteers as of the end of 2017 and served 6,965 meals last year. Volunteers traveled 4,576 miles to deliver those meals, almost the equivalent of driving from Nashville to Rome, Italy (if such a drive were possible).

Volunteers also spend time with clients, offering increased opportunities to socialize with others and have some check on their wellbeing.

Volunteer opportunities are available for all ages, from high school students to other senior adults. Students needing volunteer hours for Tennessee Promise, for example, can work with Meals on Wheels to meet that requirement.

“Our delivery people go above and beyond,” Pitre said.

In some cases, volunteers do needed household tasks such as taking out garbage.

Mid-Cumberland offers other assistance to clients through its outreach program, such as USDA commodities, help with home energy bills and weatherization assistance.

“The Senior Center helps us out a lot as well, sewing blankets, scarves and donating items such as shampoo, body soap, etc.,” Pitre said.

For more information on Meals on Wheels or to learn about volunteer opportunities, call 615-374-3987 or email MOW.Hartsville@mchra.com.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.