Wood County mayors deliver meals to seniors

PARKERSBURG – Local officials joined the Wood County Senior Center and Meals on Wheels to deliver meals to area seniors on Wednesday.

The Mayors on Wheels program is a national initiative to bring attention to the Meals on Wheels program and occurs during the program’s annual March for Meals campaign.

According to the Meals on Wheels Association of America, “March for Meals is an annual campaign designed to raise awareness of senior hunger and to encourage action at the local level. Senior nutrition programs across the United States promote March for Meals in their communities through public events, partnerships with local businesses, volunteer recruitment efforts and fundraising initiatives.”

Officials estimate more than 1,500 mayors and elected officials nationwide participated in the event last year.

“It’s a pretty big deal for us, and we’re excited about it,” said Stephanie Deem, activities director for the Wood County Senior Center. “This is the first time we’ve done this in our community.”

The center serves about 120 meals to homebound seniors through the program, though the number can be much higher, officials said. Other area agencies also serve meals, either at individual homes or through senior meeting places.

Mayor Bob Newell helped pass out meals Wednesday at Market Manor in Parkersburg.

Deem said officials in Vienna and Williamstown planned to participate in Wednesday’s program or to volunteer with Meals on Wheels later if their schedules didn’t allow time Wednesday.

“We were grateful for their willingness to participate,” Deem said. “It gives more publicity to the program and helps raise public awareness of the issue we have of senior hunger, which I think a lot of people are unaware of in our community.”

Violet Nutt, 85, was enjoying the sunlight coming through the picture window of her daughter Sheila Jackson’s home in Williamstown Wednesday when city Councilwoman Barbara Lewis showed up at the door with a hot lunch of ravioli from the Wood County Senior Citizens Association Meals on Wheels program.

“I’m not able to get up and fix meals, so they’re delivered five days a week, Monday through Friday,” Nutt said. “And it’s a different meal every day.”

Jackson said her mother has benefited from the program for at least two years and began receiving the meals where she formerly lived in Parkersburg.

Lewis, who was delivering the meals on behalf of Mayor Jean Ford, said Meals on Wheels provides a needed service for the community.

“We’re so thankful for the county senior citizen and Meals on Wheels,” she said. “And we hope more people will take advantage of this service as well as volunteer some time to help with the program.”

Lewis, accompanied by Deem, delivered seven meals in Williamstown Wednesday.

“Typically we deliver around 135 meals throughout the county daily,” Deem said. “We have two full-time drivers now, but volunteers are always welcome.”

(Writer Sam Shawver contributed to this story.)