72ºF

How you can help Meals on Wings keep delivering to seniors in need

Meal delivery program run by UNF needs donations to help during pandemic

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Meals on Wings is a program run by the Center for Nutrition and Food Security at the University of North Florida.

Its focus is to fill the gap by feeding seniors who are on the waiting list for Meals on Wheels, but donations are down because of the coronavirus.

The food they deliver is a lifeline for 25 senior citizens living in Duval County.

It comes from unused food at four local hospitals. Instead of being thrown away, it's donated to the University of North Florida, divided up, added to and then packaged up.

“We will get rice and veggies from one hospital, protein from another, and then we bring it back and figure out how to put it into healthy meal,” said Lauri Wright, chair of the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at UNF.

Wright runs the Meals on Wings program, which was supposed to be Spring Break this week.

“We were just really worried about those seniors having the ability to access food, given the short supply of food,” Wright said. “These are homebound seniors.”

She and her co-workers did not want their clients to worry about how they'd get their next meal with the panic buying many are seeing at local grocery stores.

So they're packaging seven meals for each senior citizen and delivering them to their doorsteps.

The reaction they received was heartwarming.

Jack, who recently had a stroke, became emotional when he received his second delivery in two weeks.“I brought him seven meals, the food and the toilet paper, and he just burst into tears,” Wright said. “He was so grateful for that food. He really didn't know where he was going to be able to get it.”

His reaction reminds us about the importance of taking care of our neighbors.

Meals on Wings delivers to an assisted living facility but leaves the food at the door to maintain social distancing.

And for deliveries to individual homes, senior citizens leave a chair outside their home where food is left.

The program is powered by students, but they're not allowed in the kitchen because of the coronavirus, so staff at UNF is filling the void.

Hospitals are very busy right now, so they have less food to donate to Meals on Wings.

But you can help.

Meals on Wings cannot accept canned items at this time but asks that you donate financially to allow the program to buy larger sizes of food to make sure your donations go as far as possible. Even small donations can truly help.

To donate, you can click the Give Now button on this web page: https://www.unf.edu/brooks/Center_for_Nutrition_and_Food_Security/.


About the Author: