Drivers needed to deliver meals to homebound seniors

Mary Bullwinkel

Beacon Correspondent

The Fortuna Senior Nutrition Program is looking for drivers to deliver meals to homebound seniors. Volunteers can help by giving as little as one hour a week to keep this program at its current level.

"We currently have approximately 25 meal recipients per day," said Fortuna Site Coordinator Launa Salsbery. There are currently eight drivers and each drives three routes per day, delivering meals between 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. "The number of hot meals delivered per week could decrease to three," Salsbery said, "unless more drivers are found." Meal recipients currently receive four hot meals and one frozen meal per week. The largest route is nine home delivered meals, and the smallest route is six home delivered meals.

Stressing the importance of the program Salsbery said, "For many recipients the home delivered meal driver is the only person the senior interacts with during the day." The drivers also deliver copies of Senior News, the monthly publication from the Humboldt Senior Resource Center (the sponsor of the Senior Nutrition Program).

Meal drivers use their own car and must have a valid driver's license and insurance. "There is money available for mileage reimbursement," Salsbery said. "Some of our drivers currently take it (mileage reimbursement) and others do not."

The prepared meals are delivered Monday through Thursday of each week and certain deliveries during the month include free CalFresh fruits and vegetables. All meals include a protein and starch and either low-fat or nonfat milk.

Salsbery said there is a suggested donation of $3.50 per meal, but no senior is turned away if they cannot pay. "One of our goals is to keep seniors out of the hospital," Salsbery said, noting that a "one-night stay in the hospital is more expensive than one year of home delivered meals."

There is also a senior lunchroom at the site of the Fortuna Nutrition Program, located in the Mountain View Village at 2130 Smith Lane. "All seniors from Fortuna are welcome," according to Salsbery," and the meal is served at 12 noon." She does ask that if a senior is planning to have lunch at the site, please call ahead (725-6245) so arrangements can be made to have enough food prepared.

Anyone interested in serving as a volunteer driver for the Fortuna Senior Nutrition Program is asked to call Salsbery at the telephone number listed above.

Photo captions:

Photos by Mary Bullwinkel/Beacon

1. Aline Reno is one of the Fortuna Senior Nutrition Program's home delivery meal drivers. She is holding the basket which includes the prepared meal for senior recipient Esther Broozer.

2. Fortuna Senior Nutrition Program Site Coordinator Launa Salsbery said the program needs more volunteer drivers to deliver meals to homebound seniors.