Greater Good

Metroport Meals on Wheels

Article by Jennifer Acosta Scott

Last summer, the staff at Metroport Meals on Wheels received a desperate phone call. A hospice worker who was caring for a terminally ill woman called the Roanoke-based organization to see if they could serve her clientâwhose daughter had been injured and could no longer prepare meals for her. The hospice employee was relieved to learn that they could helpâbut was surprised to find out that they could also bring in food for the daughter. The hospice employee said, âOh, you canât help her, sheâs not 60 years old,â recalled Mary King, Metroport Meals on Wheels executive director. âI said, âWe definitely will help.â

After more discussion, it was also discovered that the injured daughter had a mentally challenged son, and an elderly grandfather. They were added to the list, too. âWithin 48 hours of getting that first phone call, we had meals in everyoneâs hands,â King says.

This kind of responsive, community-oriented assistance has become a hallmark of Metroport Meals on Wheels, a nonprofit organization that celebrates its 33rd anniversary this year. Since its inception in 1980, it has grown from a small operation based out of a home kitchen to a thriving group that serves 18 communities in Tarrant, Denton and Wise counties. Originally called Roanoke Meals on Wheels, the organization was founded by Westlake resident Kelly Bradley, who had previously volunteered at Meals on Wheels in Dallas. âWhen she went about her daily errands, she kept seeing older people in town, at the grocery store and in their yards,â King says. âSo she stood up in church one Sunday and said, âIâd like to start a Meals on Wheels program.ââ

Several of Bradleyâs fellow congregation members at Fellowship United Methodist agreed to help. The group began small, cooking in volunteersâ kitchens and delivering lunchtime meals to five participants once a week. Word of the service spread and their client list grew. Volunteers began training people in other communities who were interested in starting similar programs. By 1992, meal preparation had been moved to the kitchen of a local church, but even that wasnât enough to accommodate the groupâs burgeoning size.

âIt began to be obvious that they couldnât meet all the demand there was for meals under their current structure,â King says.

Undaunted, Bradley approached Brad Robinette, general manager of the Cielo Restaurant at the Marriott Solana hotel in Westlake, about helping out with meals. He agreed, and the restaurant began cooking for both the Roanoke and Keller groups. Partnerships with other restaurants in the area were established in the following years.

In 1993, Roanoke Meals on Wheels merged with similar organizations in Keller, Justin and a few other cities to become Metroport Meals on Wheels. Today, they deliver hot and freshly prepared lunches to people in three counties, five days a week. Residents who are able may pay a nominal fee to cover the cost of their meals, but no one is ever turned away because of inability to pay.

Most volunteer drivers are also tasked with making no more than 10 deliveries during a single shift, which enables them to spend more time visiting with their clients. âItâs not just dropping a meal off and running,â King says. âItâs that social contact that is as essential to their well-being as the food.â

Unlike many other similar programs, Metroport Meals on Wheels does not accept federal funding, a move that King says enables them to serve people who might otherwise be ineligible for help. âWe have no age requirements,â King says. â70 percent of the people we deliver to are 70 or over, but last year participants ranged from 37 to 101. There are an awful lot of people who have very unfortunate physical circumstances, and they need help when they need it.â

Over the years, Metroport Meals on Wheels has also expanded its reach with other programs. In 1981, they instituted a senior lunch program, which offers weekday meals in several different cities for seniors who are able to drive.

In 1998, they opened Sadieâs Upscale Consignment & Resale, a boutique in Roanoke that sells clothing, accessories and home furnishing. All of their proceeds benefit Metroport Meals on Wheels.

Last year, they launched Sharing the Harvest, a program that provides fresh produce to seniors. The vegetables are grown in community gardens at three area preschoolsâproviding an educational opportunity for youngsters, as well as nutritious food to those on limited budgets. âThe kids grow the produce, pick the produce and help deliver it,â King says. âSo they see the full cycle on its benefits.â Last year, 1,800 pounds of produce were delivered to local seniors through Sharing the Harvest, and King hopes they can double that this year.

The organization celebrated its 33rd year of existence with a pair of events that were held in June. On June 8, they had their annual âGive Hunger the Bootâ gala at the Marriott Solana. Attendees enjoyed a silent auction, dinner, dancing and live entertainment by the Roof Raisers, a Dallas party band. Two days later was the Metroport Meals on Wheelsâ annual golf tournament at Trophy Club Country Club. Proceeds from both events directly benefited Metroport Meals on Wheels.

With the cost of each meal running about $5, these fundraisers provide an important source of income for carrying out the groupâs purpose, thus keeping local residents fed with as little red tape as possible.âWe do not have waiting lists,â King says. âWe believe the local approach is really a cohesive approach, because it involves volunteers from the community who take care of seniors in their community.â

UPCOMING EVENTS | For 19 years, Classic Cafe owners Chris and Curtis Wells have opened their hearts and their restaurant for a dinner benefitting Metroport Meals On Wheels. The Wells Brothers and servers generously donate all proceeds and tips to MMOW. Chef Charles Youts and the entire Classic Cafe staff present a spectacular fourcourse menu with wine pairings. Last year, a beautiful fall evening was the backdrop for the 2012 Classic at Roanoke dinner providing patrons and supporters with gourmet dining, fine wine and celebration. The generosity of The Classic at Roanokeâs owners, staff and food partners along with Moet-Hennessey provided a magical evening. Save-the-date for the 20th Annual Classic Cafe Benefit Wine Dinner this November 2013 at 504 North Oak Street in Roanoke. All proceeds and tips directly benefit MMOW and the cost is $125 per person. Check www.metroportmow.org for upcoming events and dates throughout the coming year.

MEALS â AT HOME AND AWAY | Metroport Meals on Wheels offers two meal programsâa home-delivery program for those whose mobility limits their ability to grocery shop and prepare meals, and a community lunch program for active seniors. Hereâs the skinny on both.

MEAL DELIVERY

  • Meals are delivered at noon Monday through Friday in the following communities: Argyle, Bartonville, Justin, Northlake, Roanoke, Trophy Club, Bedford, Euless, Colleyville, Grapevine, Haslet, Hurst, Keller, North Richland Hills, Southlake, Westlake, Aurora, Newark and Rhome.
  • Saturday meals are also delivered in Argyle, Colleyville and Grapevine.
  • Participants in some communities may be able to receive meals for prescribed medical diets (such as a diabetic diet).
  • There are no age or income restrictions.
  • Average cost of each meal is $5, but clients are never turned away for inability to pay. To inquire about home delivery, call Metroport Meals on Wheels at (817) 491-1141.

SENIOR LUNCHEONS

  • Eight communities host MMOW senior luncheons several times a week. Walk-ins welcome.
  • Activities begin at 10am with coffee, snacks, dominoes and card games. Menus vary, but lunches are balanced and sugar-free dessert options are always available. The schedule is:
    • Colleyville Senior Center (2512 Glade Rd.) 1ST AND 3RD FRIDAY OF EACH MONTH
    • Flower Mound Senior Center (2121-C Cross Timbers) EVERY TUESDAY AND THURSDAY
    • Haslet Senior Center (105 Main St.) EVERY THURSDAY
    • Highland Village Senior Center (948B Highland Village Rd.) 1ST AND 3RD THURSDAY OF EACH MONTH
    • Justin Senior Center (405 N. College) EVERY WEDNESDAY
    • Keller Senior Center (660 Johnson Rd.) EVERY TUESDAY, WEDNESDAY AND FRIDAY
    • Roanoke Senior Center (312 S. Walnut) EVERY WEDNESDAY
    • Southlake Senior Center (307 Parkwood) EVERY TUESDAY
  • Suggested donation for each meal is $3-5.
  • Some centers allow participants to bring a covered dish in lieu of a donation; call Metroport Meals on Wheels at (817) 491-1141 for details.

For more information about Metroport Meals on Wheels, visit www.metroportmow.org.