Meals On Wheels Tries to Keep Up - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Meals On Wheels Tries to Keep Up

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9:15 Thursday morning: Marti Jay Wait is in the Washoe County Senior Center kitchen, loading up several bags of meals she’ll deliver that were just put together by a kitchen staff of 6. It’s been like this for over 40 years for Meals On Wheels…5 days a week, sunup to sundown. They start preparing the meals at 4:00 in the morning inside the senior center, a thousand of them a day. This is the lifeline for seniors short on cash and unable to drive on their own.

Outside, Marti Jay loads up her truck for another day of deliveries. Looking over her daily list, she tells us, "Well today's a lighter day. I have 38 deliveries today." This former flight attendant doesn't do it for the money... Meals On Wheels feeds her soul, especially the hugs. As she told us, "I don’t do this for the money. This is something that comes from my heart. I love the hugs. I think there are a few who don't have any human contact, and they just love being appreciated and acknowledged."

It was time to go. First stop, a little house in northeast Reno. Marti's bringing 2 pieces of fruit, a dessert, 6 pieces of bread, a half-gallon of milk and some frozen meals. A knock on the door, and a hearty welcome from inside. Marti Jay: "How are you doing today?" Robert: "OK." Marti Jay got her hug.

Robert had been waiting. For this former army vet, it’s a highlight of his week. As he told us, “She's just so friendly and so warm. And she lightens up my day...because I'm stuck in a wheelchair."

Robert, who’s just one of 450 seniors getting deliveries this week, tells me a common story. Money’s tight. As he told me, “Things aren't cheap." And he can’t get out to get food himself…he lost his leg years ago. His bills are high. He just paid his property tax: "The utilities and that. And I try to buy things for my granddaughter.”

The only money he gets is from Social Security, and the little he makes selling his artwork. He calls these baskets of food a lifesaver. Without them, he says he'd be “Up the creek. I really would."

There are many more Roberts…Meals On Wheels has more people to serve than ever. The senior population is growing faster than any other in Washoe County. Combine that with limited funding and increased costs, like the high price of gas lately, and Meals On Wheels is now stuck with a waiting list of new seniors trying to sign up.

For now, close to 300 in the program say this is their only meal of the day. Marti Jay sees them all the time: "Everything is going up so much, they really depend on this food."

And it was time to go. Marti Jay has 36 more deliveries to make...and hopefully, 36 more hugs to receive.

-written by John Potter

Despite the current waiting list, you can still sign up for Meals On Wheels. The service is available to any home bound senior 60 years or older for a recommended $2 donation. We have everything you need to know at our website. Just click the link below:
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