Feeding the hungry and the housebound
In a given year, Lake Oswego's Meals on Wheels program serves more than 20,000 meals to senior citizens, and around 75 percent of those meals are delivered directly to residents who are housebound.
The program promotes independence and enhances quality of life, City officials say, by providing nutritious meals and social interaction to seniors who are disabled or may not be as mobile as they once were. And that's why October has been designated "Meals on Wheels Month" in Lake Oswego by official proclamation.
Volunteers and board members say they're hoping the recognition and a series of events planned this month will help them raise $50,000 for the program — which is not associated with the larger, regional Meals on Wheels People organization — and provide a deep base of funding that will sustain the local nonprofit throughout the year.
One of those board members, local Realtor Lynn Brokaw, started as a driver with Meals on Wheels, delivering food to seniors once a week and pitching in where he could. Today, he's a huge proponent of the program's mission.
"Many years ago, my mother was getting Meals on Wheels in Colorado and I identified it as a great program for seniors and the disabled," Brokaw says. "I definitely have a personal connection."
That connection made Brokaw realize that he wanted to give back to the nonprofit that treated his own family with such kindness, he says.
Since then, he and the rest of the board have created a network of local businesses — including New Seasons Market, Babica Hen Cafe, Gubanc's Restaurant, Nicoletta's Table and his own firm, Hasson Company Realtors — to create fundraising drives, donate a portion of monthly proceeds or make in-kind donations to the Adult Community Center, where the Meals on Wheels program is based.
The Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce is on board, too, and will sponsor a fundraising event from 7:30-9 a.m. at the ACC on Oct. 13. The gathering will include a full sit-down breakfast sponsored by Mike Hasson of Hasson Company Realtors, a slient auction and a raffle.
"Everyone knows Meals on Wheels. It's not a foreign name," says Meals on Wheels board co-chair Frank Bridwell. "I wanted to get involved because you can see the tangible good this program creates. It's not a bunch of rich guys sitting around; this is a working board that gets stuff done."
Getting stuff done includes preparing all the fresh, hot meals from scratch at the ACC, using local and farm-to-table ingredients — some of it grown at Luscher Farm — when available. Everything is packaged and delivered on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to participants' homes; frozen meals are available on request, and there's even a sit-down lunch option with table service, tablecloth, fresh flowers and live piano music.
Meals provided by Meals on Wheels, whether delivered or consumed on site at the ACC, cost an average of $7 to create and prepare. A donation of $4 per meal is suggested, but if a client can't pay, the program doesn't worry about collecting.
That's why fundraising is key to keeping the operation running and continuing to grow, according to Brokaw. Lake Oswego is one of only a few cities to have its own Meals on Wheels program, which the City funds in advance each year. The all-volunteer board then holds a variety of fundraisers throughout the year to repay the money.
"We need to raise these funds in order to pay for the process of this organization," Brokaw says. "Our needs range from $50,000 to $100,000 a year, so it's up to our board to raise that. We are subsidized by the City, but we have to give all that back, so anything and everything helps."
To become a "Designated Sponsor," a business must donate $200 or more, Brokaw says, though many who have already donated are giving around $500.
For more information or to donate, visit www.lakeoswegomealsonwheels.org or call 503-481-3453. Donations can also be made by sending a check to LOMOW, 505 G Ave., Lake Oswego, OR 97034.