Eateries helping Meals on Wheels thrive

November 5, 2010 8:17:08 PM PDT
Meals on Wheels provides three million meals per year to Bay Area seniors, and demand is growing with the struggling economy. But the organization is partnering with local restaurants to keep the program running strong.

Volunteer Tom Twist drives his own car on his own time to deliver a hot meal to a Walnut Creek senior, who otherwise might go without. For the past 10 years, Twist has been a volunteer for Meals on Wheels, devoting one morning a week to his delivery route.

"There is a lot of satisfaction, personal satisfaction. There are wonderful, wonderful people and over the years, you get to know these people to some degree," he said.

Twist visited 97-year-old Malcolm Read, who says Meals on Wheels has helped him stay where he wants -- living in his own home.

"The secret to my success is that I never took a vitamin and I eat as few cooked vegetables as possible, but of course Meals on Wheels has balanced foods, so I have to eat some vegetables," he said.

Meals on Wheels is a federally-funded program and for the most part that funding has remained stable. but with the shaky economy, the demand for meals has increased about 10 percent per year.

"More and more seniors are needing Meals on Wheels and in order for us to give them, we have to find creative ways to do fundraising," Sandy Warren from Meals on Wheels said.

Bay Area restaurants seemed like a natural partner.

"We're doing a Dine Out for Meals on Wheels on Tuesday, Nov. 9," said. "Seven 'Meals on Wheels' organizations are working together. So whether it's in San Francisco, Santa Clara, Contra Costa, there's a restaurant that's working with us that can help donate money to Meals on Wheels," Warren said.

Walnut Creek's Sasa is one of 200 Bay Area restaurants that have agreed to donate 10 percent of their Nov. 9 receipts to Meals on Wheels.

"Meals on Wheels delivers food to people who are handicapped, who are homebound, who can't get out to get food for themselves. And being that we feed people, every day, I just feel like it's a great charity to support," Susan Rizer from Sasa said.

So on Nov. 9, those enjoying gourmet fare at participating restaurants like Sasa can do so knowing they're helping a senior like Malcolm enjoy at least one hot meal, everyday.


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