History of Meals On Wheels
Meals on Wheels for Fort Collins (MOW-FC) was established in 1969 to provide home-delivered meal services to homebound persons in need in the Fort Collins area. Their mission is to provide nutritious, hot, noon-time meals and social interaction for seniors and disabled adults in their homes five days a week in the greater Fort Collins area.
One of their most successful collaborations is the Poudre Valley Hospital (PVH). The kitchen's dietary staff has been planning and preparing MOW-FC's meals for over 48 years ensuring optimum nutrition for their clients. With each home delivery MOW-FC provides 1) hot meals prepared according to nutritional guidelines, 2) Conversation and social contact with friendly and compassionate volunteers, and 3) Wellness checks with each delivery.
Homebound elderly and disabled adults often experience limitations such as the reduced ability to shop for food and prepare meals due to aging, mobility, disability or cognitive issues. Such limitations can create new or exacerbate existing nutrition related risk factors increasing the likelihood of hospital stays and permanent placement in assisted living facilities. Other risk factors may include malnutrition, social isolation, dementia, depression, dependency, functional disability, presence of diet related acute or chronic diseases or conditions, medication side effects, advanced age, minority status, rural geographic areas, and living alone. Since their beginning, it has been MOW-FC's mission to provide home-delivered, nutritionally balanced meals in order to help homebound adults remain in their own homes living independently.
How has COVID affected MOW-FC's operation?
As with many other organizations on the front lines during this pandemic, every aspect of what MOW-FC does, their service, and how they interact with their clients changed. They have been able to adapt to the safety protocols put in place from both the CDC as well as the hospital that prepares their meals. With a staff of 3 FTE's, volunteers are integral to their operations. Many of their older volunteers are taking a driving hiatus for the time being for their safety as well as for those served. MOW-FC must err on the side of caution when drivers are feeling ill and substitute drivers help mitigate gaps when necessary. MOW-FC recently added a new route making a total of 26 daily routes in the Fort Collins /Wellington areas with the possibility of adding more routes to meet the growing need. The mounting costs of background checks for new volunteers continues to impact their daily operation. MOW-FC is fortunate to receive funds to help subsidize that cost as well as the cost of meals enabling them to extend outreach to those unable to afford this service. Since March 2020 MOW-FC increased their daily average meals from 210 to 278. Many of the new meal requests came from loved ones who are now unable to visit them as often and shop for them due to their own social isolation.
Providing social interaction and daily wellness checks with clients is a large part of MOW-FC's offered service. It is more important now than ever as a result of their new no-contact policy as a result of the virus. In response, they have established a "Phone Buddy" project so that the volunteer connection with their clients can continue. Many older volunteers who resigned due to the virus are able to stay engaged with those they have developed relationships with over the phone. MOW-FC's part time staff person went from 10 hours a week to 32 since the pandemic began.
MOW-FC's meals are provided on a sliding scale to those in need however there are many seeking their services that are unable to afford meals, or lack the capacity to shop for and prepare meals. The Karen Carroll Fund, named for a long-time volunteer and eventual meal recipient was established to meet the growing needs of those unable to pay. While Poudre Valley Hospital provides MOW-FC with substantial in-kind benefits, it does not cover the costs that MOW-FC is charged. The meal cost is $7.00 for which MOW-FC pays $4.00 for each meal. Grants are sought and used to subsidize the cost of meals provided at no charge. For each $1,000 donation, 250 hot nutritious meals are provided to those unable to meet their needs without this support.
Rotary Club of Fort Collins - Breakfast: $1,000
Rotary District 5440: $1,000
How Funds will be Used
Meals On Wheels Fort Collins/Wellington
500 meals @ $4.00: $2,000
Three members of the Rotary Club of Fort Collins - Breakfast deliver meals every Wednesday in cooperation with MOW-FC.