News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

Meals on Wheels brings back in-person lunches

Reporter for The Canyon Weekly

Meals on Wheels will return to in-person dining in Mill City after almost three years of being closed due to COVID-19 and the 2020 wildfires.

Free lunches will be served to eligible residents at the fellowship hall of Mill City Presbyterian Church (236 SW Broadway St.) on Feb. 2 at noon, continuing thereafter on the first Thursday of each month.

The program is available to residents 60 and older and their spouses. Site Manager Vicki Emery said volunteers are excited to bring back a vital opportunity for connections between seniors.

“If you haven’t gone before, come and try it,” she said. “If you used to get it, come back, we would love to have you.”

Meals on Wheels is primarily known for their meal delivery services for older residents who may have difficulty shopping on their own. This service remained open during the pandemic, however a parallel in-person lunch program closed in 2020 amid lockdown restrictions.

Emery said closing the in-person experience was a real loss at a time when many seniors were feeling more isolated and in need of personal support. As in-person dining resumed at Meals on Wheels programs elsewhere in the region, Emery said it was time to reopen and help Mill City “wake up from this pandemic sleep.”

“It makes my heart feel so good and warm when I see the community connecting again,” she said. “We’ve had so much despair between the Beachie Creeks fires and the pandemic and businesses closing. 

I know we’re getting ready to hit a financial crisis as well, so the more we can get together and be a community and be there for each other, it just makes my heart happy.”

In preparation for the upcoming return to in-person meals, Emery said residents who plan to attend should call ahead and confirm so volunteers know how many to prepare for. She said, once they get back into the routine of the program, it will be easier to predict turnout, but until then diners are encouraged to call well in advance and can reach Emery at 503-897-2204 Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

While the meals are offered for free both in-person and through home delivery, Meals on Wheels suggests a donation of $3.50 per person. 

Residents who may benefit from home delivery can call Emery and set up time to meet with an assessor and determine eligibility. The Mill City program delivers locally, as well as to Gates, Lyons and Mehama.

MEALS ON WHEELS

What: Meals on Wheels dine-in lunch.

When: Thursday, Feb. 2, at noon.

Where: Mill City Presbyterian Church (236 SW Broadway St.)

For whom: Residents 60 and older, and their spouses.

How much: Free, with a $3.50 suggested donation.

Who to call: Vicki Emery, 503-897-2204.

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