SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah – Volunteers in Salt Lake County head out at least once a week to give hot meals to seniors in their community, but the visits are about a lot more than just the food.
"I love it,” said Rosemary Alder, who receives meals from the program. “I wouldn't be alive if it wasn't for this project."
The project Alder mentions is Meals on Wheels, which is a program where businesses and volunteers come together to bring hot lunches to elderly people.
“And this is really often times--Sometimes the only meal that people will get during the day, certainly the only hot meal that they may get,” said Ben McAdams, who is the Mayor of Salt Lake County.
The meals are provided by Salt Lake County, but it's also a chance to check on seniors and provide companionship.
The program aims to help seniors live independently in their homes for as long as possible. Mayor McAdams was among a recent batch of volunteers who helped deliver lunches, and he said it's a critical program for the elderly.
"They tell me when I go out and do these meal deliveries that they love the personal contact, the time they get to spend with the person who comes every week to check in on them,” he said. “It's really important to the seniors."
Alder said Meals on Wheels most likely saved her life when she blacked out and couldn't get off the floor. A volunteer who had brought her lunch found her and called 911. Alder said those volunteers are the best part of the program.
"They are fantastic,” she said. “They are just wonderful, Every one of them are so friendly and so sweet, and I get lots of hugs and the food is good!"
Richard Jorgensen also receives meals from the program.
“It's good to get to know them, and they help me quite a bit,” he said of the volunteers.
Alder said she sees the program as a positive karma payoff.
“I mentioned it to some of my friends, and they said, 'It's charity'. And I said, 'I did a lot of charity work when I was growing up, so it's really payback' and it's wonderful,” she said.
McAdams said the program is a positive experience for everyone involved.
"It's that personal touch that's so valuable to our seniors, but I also think it's valuable to the volunteers who get to experience this, who get to do something good,” he said. “And it takes, you know, an hour a week, and they get to do something good and have a real impact and make a difference in our community."
To learn more about the Meals on Wheels program, whether as a beneficiary or a volunteer, visit Salt Lake County Aging and Adult Services' webpage for the program. You can also reach the county’s Aging and Adult Services by calling 385-468-3201.