Grant gets meals on wheels a new van

Posted at 8:53 AM, Dec 31, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-31 08:53:42-05

Lillian Baer gets seven meals a week from Jackson County's Meals on Wheels program.

"Oh honey, we couldn't live without it. Us old people couldn't live without it. They'd put us in a rest home," Baer told us.

But, the 90-year-old prefers her independence, which the program helps make possible.

"I love my home, you know; and, I want to stay in as long as I can," Baer explained. "I rely on it everyday, the vegetables and the meat or anything, you know and the milk. The milk, because I can't get out to get milk."

Nearly 650 other seniors around the county are in the same situation each month. So, the program has about 20 drivers who deliver the meals. But, their vans are becoming worn out.

The Department of Aging's Deputy Director, Danielle Pequet, explained, "Vehicles need repairs, we put a lot of miles on the vehicles and there's times where, you know, we have to replace the vehicles."

Right now, the Meals on Wheels program has about 16 vans. Each one holds multiple hot boxes and coolers to keep the meals fresh for each senior.

And soon, they'll be adding a new van to the fleet.

A $5,000 grant is helping the Department of Aging replace an old one.

"We're so appreciative," Pequet said. "That's one of the things that we need to help get that meal delivered on a regular basis. So, it really truly is a need."

Letting the drivers focus on what's most important.

"There are so many people that probably wouldn't eat or they'd just eat snack food if they weren't getting this nice, hot meal," said driver, Jean McGee.

And after five and a half years on the job, he's learned it's more than that.

"It's interacting and it's kind of checking up on them to make sure they're okay and are alive and well," McGee explained.

Helping keep the community safe and healthy.

According to the Department of Aging, over 250,000 meals were delivered in 2015.

If you'd like to help support the Department's efforts, Meals on Wheels has a fundraiser coming up in March, called Soup's On For Seniors.

There will be all types of food, a silent auction and live music. For more information, visit