CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — August 16, 2021 marks 50 years since the first Meals on Wheels delivery in State College. Since then, the team of volunteers has delivered more than 1.5 million meals to residents in need of assistance.
“Our clients are folks who are essentially confined to their homes and unable to prepare food for themselves,” said Suelynn Shiller, executive director of State College Area Meals on Wheels.
Over the pandemic, the organization was able to maintain operations by reducing the number of volunteer staff and proving frozen meals and shelf-stable groceries once a week.
“We thought that would be a couple of weeks of service and it ended up being a year and a half,” said Shiller.
The organization now operates three days a week out of the Grace Lutheran Church in downtown State College. They serve a hot, cold, and frozen meal to about 120 clients.
Shiller says volunteers make it all possible, from packaging and delivering the meals, to simply being a companion.
“We are always in need of substitute volunteers,” said Shiller. “We also have some spots for dishwashers and calling volunteers.”
Weekly phone call check-ins was another new program Meals on Wheels developed during the pandemic to help clients get through times of isolation.
“We’ve created some really wonderful friendships through that program,” said Shiller.
Meals on Wheels is starting a grocery program in September where volunteers are matched with one client to grocery shop for once or twice a month.