Meals-On-Wheels is enriching lives of many LO senior citizens

by: CLIFF NEWELL - Friendship and food are delivered by the Lake Oswego Meals-On-Wheels program. From left are drivers Lorri and Mike Kehoe and recipients Betty and Art Sorenson.When advancing age began causing problems for Art Sorenson and his wife, Betty, he began looking for a solution.

The answer was Lake Oswego Meals-On-Wheels, the city’s very own mobile meal service program for senior citizens and disabled people.

Meals-On-Wheels is increasingly becoming the answer for elder citizens’ nutritional needs. Of the 20,000 meals served to senior citizens in Lake Oswego last year, more than 60 percent were delivered to homes.

“Cooking in general was becoming a real problem,” Sorenson (age 90) said. “Betty (age 86) had sleep apnea and was waking up 50 times a night. Shopping was becoming a problem, too. Her memory was getting worse.”

The Sorensons found out about Meals-On-Wheels from their friend Paulette Furness, business director for the Archdiocese of Portland. Furness could not offer any help from her diocese, which has seen its budget cut by 40 percent. But she had heard good things about the Lake Oswego Meals-On-Wheels.

“Paulette is a lawyer and she’s as smart as can be,” said Sorenson. “She said Lake Oswego had its own kitchen and its own Meals-On-Wheels program. I talked to Berta Derman (social services director at the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center). I told Betty, ‘Let’s try it.’ “

They tried it, they liked it.

“The meals are good. They’re well balanced. They’re inexpensive,” Sorenson said. “They fit our program pretty good. Four dollars a day for a meal is not bad. You can’t beat that price at a restaurant.”

A side benefit has been the friendship that Sorenson has struck up with his driver, Mike Kehoe, a Lake Oswego city councilor who delivers meals along with his wife, Lorri.

“Mike has given a challenge for other Lake Oswego City Council members to get involved,” said Shelle Winkler, the new co-chairman for the ACC meals program, along with Lynn Brokaw.

“It’s exciting to get the city council involved. It gives us that much more publicity,” Winkler said.

The benefits of Meals-On-Wheels are even greater for many other senior citizens who are not as fortunate as the Sorensons. Besides having each other, the couple has a support group of friends and family in Lake Oswego, and they are in good health. Senior citizens often live alone, and many of them cannot afford the cost of a meal. But Winkler says no one is turned away.

“A lot of people have trouble getting out of their homes,” Sorenson said. “The meal delivery person is often the only person they see all week.”

“It’s a great program,” Winkler said. “People have been so generous in their giving.”

The Lake Oswego Meals Network is holding its major fundraiser this month. Program volunteers are going to New Seasons Market in Mountain Park and asking customers to donate money at the same time they pay for their groceries.

These fundraising drives have been a great success, but more money is needed than ever due to the ever-rising number of senior citizens who are signing up for the program in Lake Oswego.

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