Meals on Wheels seeking summer volunteers

By Daniel Adam
Staff Writer

Riverside Health Care is looking for volunteers to help with their Meals on Wheels program this summer. As a part of their lunch-hour superhero initiative, they are seeking delivery drivers.

“We are reaching out to local businesses to see if there would be a group of staff or teams that might like to donate their lunch hour for a couple of days a week or a full week to deliver those meals to our clients,” says Simone LeBlanc, Riverside quality and support services director.

The route, which takes 1.5-2 hours can be done by one individual, or can be divided up amongst team members, says LeBlanc. She says Riverside’s hope is to enlist four or five local businesses that will sign up for a week or two throughout the summer.

She says Riverside is very flexible, and can accommodate based on people’s volunteerism desires. She says there are lots of benefits to volunteering.

“It gives people a sense of community, and a sense of pride. If you’re doing it as a team, it can be a great team-building activity — a great way to boost morale within your office,” she says. “It makes an incredible difference to our clients. It allows a lot of people to remain in their home and live independently longer. It also helps decrease the risk of malnutrition in the community.”

LeBlanc says the program has a strong base of volunteers, but that summer will be more challenging as people want to take some time off.

Riverside relies on volunteer drivers to get the meals delivered to clients in Fort Frances, Emo, and Rainy River. LeBlanc says a lot of their clients are senior citizens.

She says the meal is delivered in a to-go container with hot food and a soup or salad. It’s always a full meal. Once a week, the Salvation Army donates fresh fruit as well.

“This ensures our clients get a warm meal once a day, Monday through Friday,” says LeBlanc.

To volunteer, contact Sheri Monahan at 274-4847. Anyone who wishes to become a client can contact Riverside community support services.

Riverside looks after preparation and co-ordination of the meals. They’ve always provided the meals, but in the past year have taken over the whole program.

“We’ve worked with the Meals on Wheels committee for many, many, many years,” says LeBlanc. “And then we assumed responsibility for the full program in July of 2021 when their co-ordinator retired.”

Meals on Wheels has provided nutritious meals to seniors and other clients for over 40 years in Fort Frances. LeBlanc says the program at Riverside prepared over 10,000 meals in 2021.