Flin Flon's Meals on Wheels program hungry for new helpers

In the dozen-plus years that Brenda Veitch has overseen the program, Meals on Wheels has never missed a delivery.

But with a dwindling volunteer base, she worries what the future may hold for the long-running area service.

“We don’t want to get to the point where we are struggling,” says Veitch, the Flin Flon volunteer coordinator for the Northern Health Region.

To prevent that from happening, she has put out a desperate call for volunteers.

It’s not that Meals on Wheels, which provides lunches to shut-ins six days a week, is about to collapse.

But there is concern that too much is expected of a small group of volunteers, including seniors who may have difficulty making deliveries on snowy days.

“We’re trying to build up our volunteer base to make it easier on everybody,” says Veitch.

Meals on Wheels currently serves 16 clients in Flin Flon. Most are elderly shut-ins, but the program has at times helped in other situations, such as a single mom with a broken leg.

Although the program delivers one full-course meal a day, that often becomes two meals as clients have the sides for lunch and the main portion for supper.

As a Meals on Wheels volunteer for the past five years, Ruth Tetlock knows the value of the service.

“It’s a very, very important program,” she says, mentioning not only the meal but also the social interaction for shut-ins.

Partnership

Meals on Wheels operates on the strength of a partnership between the public and voluntary sectors.

Each day except Sunday, kitchen staff at the Flin Flon General Hospital prepare enough full-course meals to fill that day’s orders.

At about 11:45 am, volunteer drivers and deliverers pick up the waiting meal trays through the back door of the hospital.

Following a designated route, volunteers spend about 45 minutes distributing each tray to its recipient.

When Veitch began overseeing Meals on Wheels in 2002, service organizations supplied enough volunteers to run the program about 10 months of the year. The remaining two months relied on individual volunteers.

Today service organizations are only able to cover five months, leaving a pool of about 25 volunteers to handle the remaining seven months.

Since Veitch began running ads in The Reminder looking for additional help, she has heard from three people and is hoping for more.

Tetlock says those who volunteer for Meals on Wheels won’t regret it.

“I enjoy going up and meeting the people and just saying, ‘Hi, how are you today?’” she says. “And of course you have such a good feeling when it’s 40-below out, when you take a nice hot meal to somebody who can’t get out and get their own. That gives you great satisfaction as well.”

Anyone interested in volunteering with Meals on Wheels may contact Veitch at 204-687-9315 for more information. Any donation of time is welcome, with no long-term commitment required.

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