Meals on Wheels of Rockland County provides local residents with an array of critical services. If someone is 60 years of age or older they can offer them home delivered meals. If one is under 60, meals can be furnished based on need. The organization does quite a bit more though. It's in their motto "More than just a meal." Services ranging from senior centers to adult day care are provided to area residents who need them. Nevertheless, the charitable institution is probably most widely known for its home meal delivery program.
Providing homebound individuals with wholesome healthy meals, delivered right to their doors, is no easy task. However, the employees and volunteers who devote their time and efforts to doing just that accomplish the job with remarkable dedication and incredible results.
Every day the commissary at Meals on Wheels fulfills the dietary needs of many, many people throughout the county, producing an astounding 1200 meals per day. In addition to the home deliveries, the organization provides meals for other programs as well.
"A lot of people have attached a stigma to Meals on Wheels as an institutional type of meal, but that's just not true," said Marianne Colucci, RD, Director of Food Service and Nutrition. "We have trained chefs and a team of assistants that produce some of the freshest food that is both nutritious and delicious."
The bulk of the daily food production occurs before 10 a.m. and Executive Chef Joseph D'Apolito begins his work in the kitchen at 5 a.m. D'Apolito is an alumnus of the Culinary Institute of America. The world famous school has graduated such renowned chefs as Anthony Bourdain and Roco DiSpirito, and it is precisely that caliber of gastronomic expertise that is afforded to each and every person that the home meal delivery program serves.
"The meal of the day today is chicken teriyaki with mushrooms, shallots, sweet potato, and mixed vegetables," said D'Apolito. "For the cold meal today we have nice fresh fruit with cottage cheese."
For specific dietary concerns the meals are prepared as needed. Meals on Wheels provides meals that are kosher, tailored for therapeutic diets, vegetarian, or are of an altered consistency such as chopped or pureed
"Our meals are of the highest standard," said Colucci.
"In fact," added her husband Bob, who is the volunteer chairman for the marketing committee,"it's better than fresh."
Operations in the commissary are facilitated by a crew of enthusiastic volunteers who make the service that Meals on Wheels provides possible.
"If it wasn't for the community service, we'd have a skeleton staff," said Colucci. "We [also] rely on community volunteerism to ensure that the meals get delivered every day."
Meals on Wheels employs two professional drivers, but the all of the home meal deliveries are done by volunteers. The drivers drop of the meal carriers at various locations and the volunteers take it from there. Numbering over 700, their 44 weekday and seven weekend routes have about 10-12 clients each. Every client has a choice between a hot or cold meal. Hot meals are delivered from Monday through Friday with frozen meals provided for weekends and holidays.
Indeed, Meals on Wheels offers a truly important service to the community and people who could benefit from it need not shy away, a point that Colucci stressed vehemently.
"Please do not be reluctant to call and request meal delivery," she said.
For more information on their home meal delivery program or on ways to get involved as a volunteer, please call the Meals on Wheels of Rockland County office at 845-624-6325.