Mobile meal programs provide nourishment 

From left, Barbara Hill and Alison Calhoon, volunteers with Westminster Presbyterian Church in Crown Heights, dole out portions of "Hoppin Johns", cornbread, and cherry crisp dessert, for the  Mobile Meals program being delivered shortly after it's ready, to neady recepients on New Years Eve, 12-31-15, in OKC. - MARK HANCOCK
  • Mark Hancock
  • From left, Barbara Hill and Alison Calhoon, volunteers with Westminster Presbyterian Church in Crown Heights, dole out portions of "Hoppin Johns", cornbread, and cherry crisp dessert, for the Mobile Meals program being delivered shortly after it's ready, to neady recepients on New Years Eve, 12-31-15, in OKC.

Oklahoma City Community Foundation recently awarded grants totaling $28,075 to 60 mobile meal providers across central Oklahoma. The funds helped 58 churches deliver hot, nutritious fare to elderly, homebound community residents via Mobile Meals of Oklahoma County, Edmond Mobile Meals and Meals on Wheels of Norman.

Since 2008, the foundation has awarded more than $200,000 in grants to support Mobile Meals programs in central Oklahoma.

The Sooner State is ranked No. 33 nationally for its high rate of food insecurity among seniors age 60 and older, according to National Foundation to End Senior Hunger’s report The State of Senior Hunger in America 2012: An Annual Report. Over 15 percent of Oklahoma’s senior population lacks access to sufficient reliable, affordable, nutritious food.

According to data from Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, 1 in 6 Oklahoma seniors faces the uncertainty.

“We estimate that the organizations receiving the grants provide more than 3,500 meals every week,” said Nancy B. Anthony, Oklahoma City Community Foundation president. “Most churches have five or six people involved in the cooking and delivery each week. This is one of the best examples of volunteer service that is efficient and meaningful to both the recipients and the volunteers.”

Carolyn Roslik is project director for Mobile Meals of Oklahoma County. She has held the post for 20 years at an organization that always has more clients than it can serve. But if there’s one thing Roslik has learned, it’s how to stretch a dollar.

Her agency coordinates the services of some 2,300 volunteers from 81 churches, companies and organizations that serve regular meals to 1,100 elderly people who live alone and cannot drive. The nonprofit employs three people.

Volunteers are always welcome, and applications for cooking or meal delivery volunteers can be obtained by calling 607-2314.

Roslik said she is particularly grateful for the administrative funds her agency receives from Oklahoma City Community Foundation.

Grants go directly to churches and organizations to restock their food supplies, Roslik said.

The food delivered is critical, but human interaction is a close second.

“Our clients and drivers become attached to each other. Clients will call to check in if a new driver brings a meal,” Roslik said. “It’s heartbreaking; they’re very much alone. Our drivers are so great, and most will really work to accommodate their clients, even driving out of their way to pick up a prescription or run a small errand.”

Churches tend to fund hunger abatement programs through their mission budgets, which can fluctuate, and there are always more hungry people than funds to feed them.

Edmond Mobile Meals serves 1,000 meals each week to homebound elderly and disabled people, and Norman’s Meals on Wheels program serves upward of 300 people every day.

“We are looking at another budget decrease,” Roslik added.

Mobile Meals of Oklahoma County receives about 25 percent of its budget from the State of Oklahoma.

Print Headline: Warm wheels, Oklahoma City Community Foundation awards tens of thousands of dollars to mobile meals programs across the county.

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