State Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean, today was joined by local officials and representatives from Meals on Wheels of Jamestown to announce $20,000 in state funding secured by Sen. Young to assist the organization in replacing aging delivery vans in the Meals on Wheels' fleet.
"This funding will help Meals on Wheels better serve senior citizens living right now in Chautauqua County," said Barrie Yochim, executive director for Meals on Wheels. "And, this funding will help save Meals on Wheels thousands of dollars during the next several years."
Meals on Wheels approached Sen. Young nearly two years ago because its older vehicles were breaking down more often, causing high repair bills.
"We have seen what Meals on Wheels means to the Jamestown area. Our frail elderly need good nutrition. Meals on Wheels delivers food and much-needed human contact from wonderful volunteers who care. Every penny counts and this funding allows Meals on Wheels to help seniors in an efficient and cost saving manner. I can't think of a better investment," Sen. Young said.
Meals on Wheels utilizes a fleet of 12 delivery vans to help provide hot, cold, frozen and brunch meals to senior citizens in half of Chautauqua County. Delivery vans are used to deliver meals directly to meal recipients, or to get quantities of meals to area volunteers for them to deliver meals directly to clients. Meals on Wheels also uses the delivery vans each day to get food to senior citizens who attend Chautauqua County sites operated by the Office For the Aging. All vans are used on a daily basis.
"When funding is redirected to repair aging delivery vans, less funding is available to provide meals to senior citizens in our community," Sen. Young said. "Meals on Wheels would much rather use its limited funds to get meals in the hands of our area's seniors."
With $16,000 of the funding, Meals on Wheels purchased a new 2009 Ford E-250 van for use in deliveries.
"That vehicle has replaced two aging vehicles that Meals on Wheels could get off the road saving the program hundreds of dollars," Yochim said.
After the purchase, Meals on Wheels evaluated its fleet to determine what was the best way to deliver its meals which would be prepared by the Chautauqua County Jail in Mayville - 19 miles away. The result was the purchase of a used 2002 International 24-foot diesel box truck, thanks to funding from Sheldon Foundation in Jamestown. Meals on Wheels could now more efficiently transport meals from Mayville to Jamestown.
But the diesel truck had to be upgraded for daily use by Meals on Wheels. With the balance of Senator Young's funding, Meals on Wheels installed electrical outlets that power boxes to keep hot meals hot, and shelving and straps to keep meal containers from spilling.
"This truck will replace three cargo vans which deliver meals each morning from Mayville to Jamestown, and four cargo vans which return the empty food containers back to Mayville each afternoon," Yochim said. "This truck will save Meals on Wheels thousands of dollars."
Meals on Wheels of the Jamestown Area delivers hot, cold, frozen weekend, and holiday meals to more than 350 individuals each week in southern Chautauqua County. Last year, Meals on Wheels served more than 100,000 meals. A combination of paid drivers and more than 100 volunteers deliver the meals each week.