County Update: Home-delivered meals are a lifeline, says Commissioner Allen

District 2 Commissioner Jim Allen.

Each week we provide a member of the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners the opportunity to share an update on what issues are catching their attention. This week, we have a column from District 2 Commissioner Jim Allen, whose district includes Lake Quivira, much of Shawnee and part of Lenexa.

Did you know that for many of the older adults in Johnson County, the only hot meal they may consume for the day is when their home-delivered meal arrives? Furthermore, 46% for those served by home-delivered meals have their only daily face-to-face interaction with their meal delivery volunteer.

Meals on Wheels provides nearly 250,000 meals to homebound Johnson Countians each year. Photo credit Johnson County Area Agency on Aging.

Annually, the county’s Area Agency on Aging provides more than 248,800 especially prepared, nutritious, home-delivered meals to homebound residents over the age of 60 and their spouses. Special meals for diabetic patients are also available.
In order to qualify for the service, an evaluation of need is performed by the Johnson County Area Agency on Aging. While there is a suggested donation of $3 per meal, no one is denied a meal based upon their inability to pay. The program is partially funded by the Older Americans Act. For information regarding eligibility, please call 913-715-8861.

As we approach winter weather season, it’s important to know that if meal delivery is cancelled due to bad weather or hazardous road conditions, that “blizzard meals” are available. Blizzard boxes consist of shelf stable food items to be used on days when meals cannot be safely delivered. Human Services has a policy in place regarding home-delivered meals during inclement weather, based not on school closings, but on the actual road and predicted weather conditions. The television stations will report Johnson County Meals on Wheels or Johnson County Nutrition Program (depending upon the channel) as closed with the list of other area closures. Decisions as to whether meal deliveries will be cancelled are made by 6 a.m.

Just as important as the meal is the human contact which serves as a wellness check for our vulnerable population. Home-delivered meals relies on the kindness of the community who volunteer to make deliveries and check in our neighbors. Meals are delivered from 10:45 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday. Even one hour a week makes a difference to an older adult who is homebound. This is a great volunteer opportunity for families. Perhaps grandparents want to take a grandchild on a delivery. Each month, the agency uses the services of almost 480 volunteers. Volunteers log just shy of 16,000 hours annually to make deliveries.

To volunteer for delivery of meals, please contact Brandy Hodge at 913-715-8858.