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Tiffin mayor helps raise awareness of elderly hunger issues

Tiffin Mayor Steve Berner and a volunteer drive for Elder Services, Inc.’s home delivery program visit Lowell Leichty to deliver a hot meal and friendly conversation on March 11. (photo submitted by Sandy Andreasen).

IOWA CITY– For many elderly people, a hot meal can be difficult to come by.
That’s why Elder Services, Inc., (ESI) of Iowa City, has been delivering meals to Johnson County homebound residents through its Meals on Wheels program since 1980. To raise awareness of senior hunger and nutrition issues, ESI participated in March for Meals, a national campaign held last month initiated by the Meals on Wheels Association of America.
Throughout the month of March, local dignitaries, including Johnson County elected officials, joined the volunteer drivers who regularly deliver the food and make daily contact with recipients. Tiffin Mayor Steve Berner was among the participants. It was the first time Berner became involved in the home meal delivery effort.
“While the health benefits from eating a daily well balanced and tasty meal are obvious, I think the companionship of seeing a volunteer every day for lunch is nearly as important to the clients,” Berner said.
As is often the case, many homebound seniors lack daily interaction with others. While ESI provides hot meals at noon through the weekdays and shelf-stable meals for rural recipients, it’s the opportunity to talk with people that is often as nurturing as the food, said ESI Marketing Director Sandy Andreasen.
“Our clients are always excited to see a smiling face, whoever is on the other end of it,” Andreasen said. “They are very receptive to having the folks there and have someone visit. They love having visitors in their homes.”
That’s the reception Berner experienced as well.
“Many of the recipients may not have regular visits from family or friends, and I think delivery of a meal from a friendly volunteer is a highlight of many these people’s lives,” Berner said. “I think it is important that people know the volunteers of this program deliver more than healthy meals.”
ESI volunteers delivered more than 96,000 meals last year.
Berner said the volunteer driver he rode with on March 11 was “awesome with the clients. He delivers every meal with a friendly smile and a caring ear. I assume all the volunteers of this Meals On Wheels program are similar, and they deserve a big thank you.”
For more information about ESI and its services to older adults, visit elderservicesinc.com or call 319-338-0515.