Snow Covered Waterworks Building

For the first time in 41 years, the Washington Meals on Wheels program did not trek out to deliver meals to area homebound residents.

“We’re very grateful that we were able to do it all these years, but sometimes records need to be broken and this was the year.” said Clare Huber, Meals on Wheels coordinator.

A snowstorm hit the Washington area early Sunday morning, dumping more than 10 inches of snow and bringing in bitter cold temperatures unseen in this century.

And, after nearly 15,000 days of delivering meals, Huber said she couldn’t ask volunteers to go out in the aftermath of the storm.

“We called everyone (scheduled to get) meals, and they said they could get along without them,” Huber said, adding that the program has a lot of older volunteers.

While high school-aged volunteers would have delivered meals, Huber said roadways and some of the driveways were too icy to expect them to go out.

Huber made the decision with Rita Kuchem, who helps with the program.

“It just didn’t feel right,” she said. “We’ve never missed until now, and that’s a pretty good record. We’re very proud of that record, but at the same time, it’s OK.”

The routes were canceled Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

About the Program

The number of clients varies from day to day, but on an average day, about 30 meals are prepared at Mercy Hospital Washington to be brought to clients who can’t, for some reason or another, leave their home often. Clients can be any age.

Some receive meals for years, while some only have meals delivered for one or two weeks.

Each meal is prepared individually for a client based on their dietary needs. So whether a person needs a diabetic meal, a low-calorie meal or has other restrictions, they can still use the program.

Each day, four teams split up and cover a section of Washington. On Sunday, three teams cover the area.

Because deliveries are made 365 days per year, more than 100 volunteers help deliver throughout the year.

While delivering meals volunteers check on clients.

If a volunteer finds that the client is feeling ill or needs more attention, they call the hospital, which has a file for each person. The next of kin would be called to check on the person.

If no one answers the door and the next of kin can’t be reached, the volunteer calls the police to check on the person.

The program was started in Washington in 1971 by Christine Todd, who had read about Meals on Wheels in St. Louis.

Huber was in the original founding group.

Volunteers Needed

The Washington Meals on Wheels program is in need of volunteers to deliver meals. People can volunteer as much or as little as their schedule permits.

For more information or to volunteer, people may call Huber, 636-239-2243, or St. Peter’s United Church of Christ, 636-239-6176.