In 1971, a small group of people concerned for the welfare of homebound seniors set out to make a difference and formed what would become Meals on Wheels, Inc. (MOW). They arranged for volunteers to deliver five meals weekly to homebound seniors in Union County. The meals were prepared in the kitchen of St. Elizabeth Hospital. This was the modest beginning of a wonderful organization that continues to positively impact the lives of vulnerable Union County residents.
Meals on Wheels, Inc., headquartered in Linden, is a private non-profit agency which prepares and delivers meals to homebound seniors (60 or older) who are unable to provide for themselves because of illness or physical disability. This program aids individuals in maintaining a degree of independence. It can also promote an earlier discharge from a hospital stay for those who may be convalescing but are unable to cook or continue their diet. A thorough home assessment is completed on each prospective client to determine nutritional needs and eligibility for the program.
Today Meals on Wheels, Inc., prepares and delivers more than 400,000 nutritious meals annually to both private homes and congregate dining sites in Union County. The hot, midday meal consists of an entrée, vegetables, starch, bread, dessert and milk. The meals are low in sodium and contain at least 1/3 of the minimum daily nutritional requirements for adults.
The County of Union provides MOW with a fleet of 20 vehicles, including 4 Hotshots designed to keep the food hot and cold, and a facility fitted with a modern kitchen and office.
The program is primarily supported by a generous grant from the Union County Division on Aging, as well as donations from private sources and public organizations. Clients are asked to contribute voluntary donations. However, no participant is denied service due to inability to donate.
Meals on Wheels’ Executive Director, Donna Sullivan of Cranford, has been with the organization for 26 years. MOW has a dedicated staff of 44 and a volunteer Board of Directors. Two directors, John Surmay of Elizabeth, and Rosemary Cuccaro of Westfield, have served on the Board continuously from the very beginning. Current Board President Martine Cohen, Esq., said: “MOW is a remarkable organization. It touches many lives and fulfills an essential function, especially in these trying times. MOW provides a critical safety net when there is nowhere else to turn to. Congratulations to Donna and her staff!”
As 2011 marks 40 years of service to Union County, Meals on Wheels, Inc., plans to honor the occasion with celebrations throughout the year. If you would like to know more about the organization or might be interested in volunteering or making a donation, call 908-486–5100.