HANCOCK COUNTY — There is one thing Alma Keesling can count on every day.
Keesling, a Greenfield resident, is one of about 50 people in Hancock County who are the daily recipients of food from Meals on Wheels of Hancock County, but she and others receive more than just a hot meal — volunteers are a friendly face who check in to make sure recipients like Keesling are well.
The chats that accompany the hot meals Monday through Friday help keep guard against loneliness, one of the biggest problems that plagues senior citizens, according to staff at Hancock County Senior Services.
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Keesling agrees — with no family in town, she looks forward to her daily visitors.
“My sister lives in another town, and I tell her they’re good company,” Keesling said. “I’d miss them if they didn’t come in my door.”
Every weekday morning, volunteer Tammy Andis packs cold items into coolers and hot meal trays into vinyl bags at Hancock Regional Hospital, where meal delivery routes begin.
On a recent Thursday, Paula Jarrett and Jeannie Roberts, two members of a group that calls itself the “Charity Chicks,” delivered meals to homes on one of the nine routes in the county. They leave the meals wherever the recipient wants them and then spend a few minutes at each stop inquiring about their well-being.
Each route takes at most an hour to complete, and many volunteers, like Dean Fout and Shelly Bickel, who both work at Covance, spend their lunch hours delivering meals, said Maxine Rich, the program coordinator for Meals on Wheels of Hancock County.
Most clients of Meals on Wheels are elderly, and the service allows them to live independently at home and out of assisted living facilities, Rich said.
“The drivers really get to know the client they’re delivering to,” she said. “They chat with them, and if they have concerns, they call me.”
Many seniors who receive Meals on Wheels also have family members who help them out, but the visits from drivers are an extra help, they say.
Roy Nunn, 89, of Greenfield recently returned home from a stay at an assisted living facility while he recovered from pneumonia.
He appreciates Meals on Wheels because he wants to stay independent as long as he can, he said.
“I’ve been too independent all my life,” he said. “I enjoy working; I enjoy doing things with my hands.”
Clients of Meals on Wheels must submit an application and a note from a physician on a prescription pad, even if the client does not have dietary restrictions. There is no age or income restriction for receiving Meals on Wheels.
Clients must receive meals for at least 10 business days or at least two days a week.
Applications are available at mealsonwheelsonline.org/eat
– $10 application fee
– $7.50 per client per day
– Prices range from $150 to $165 per month
– There is assistance available for those who qualify, but insurance is not accepted.