News Release Archive

By Chad Lucas 
Communications Nova Scotia

Frank Wellard spends his Monday mornings driving around Halifax's
south end with a trunk full of hot food. The 87-year-old hasn't
taken up a new career as a pizza delivery man; he's a volunteer
with the Meals on Wheels program.

"It's a lot of fun," said Mr. Wellard, who became involved with
Meals on Wheels about 15 years ago after retiring from Nova
Scotia's Department of Community Services. "It's interesting to
see the people."

Those on his route look forward to seeing him and his partner,
David Brophy, as well. "The meals are excellent," said Catherine
Redmond. "I don't know what I'd do without them." She's been
receiving Meals on Wheels for four years, since a car accident
left her unable to cook for herself.

Meals on Wheels began in Nova Scotia in 1969, with three
volunteers delivering six meals in Halifax. Now, with 68 programs
across the province, more than 600 volunteers serve an estimated
3400 meals a week. On Sept. 3, the programs will be celebrating
International Meals on Wheels Day.

Mildred Broughm, executive director of the Halifax program, said
Meals on Wheels allows the elderly to maintain their independence
while ensuring they are eating right.

"Many people are enabled to stay in their homes because of
services like Meals on Wheels," said Ms. Broughm, who has been
involved in the program for more than 12 years, the past seven as
executive director. "If they weren't able to get meals, they
might be in the nursing homes."

Added Fran Sutherland of the Senior Citizens' Secretariat: "It's
such a preventive program. It's very cost-effective in terms of
health-care dollars."

The secretariat helps promote the Meals on Wheels programs. It
publishes a provincial directory, indexed by county, with a
circulation of about 2,000 and advertises at events such as the
Seniors' Expo. The secretariat also helps promote a network that
brings together co-ordinators and meal providers from across the
province. It represents Nova Scotia on the national network and
advancement committee.

Ms. Sutherland said that while the secretariat oversees the Meals
programs and offers guidelines on how they should be run, it
leaves the operations in the hands of the communities. 

"It's their program --it belongs to the community. We're not
telling them what to do," she said. "We're just there to assist,
encourage and do anything we can to promote the whole program."

In Halifax, the service is partially funded by the municipality.
It provides a grant that covers Ms. Broughm's full-time salary
and the part-time salary of an assistant. The United Way also
provides funding, depending on how much the program needs. 

Organizations such as nursing homes and hospitals provide many of
the meals; others come from restaurants and private homes.

Clients pay $4 a meal in Halifax and $2.50 to $5 elsewhere in the
province, but the price is negotiable for those who can't afford
as much. These cases are the exception rather than the norm, said
Ms. Broughm. A common misconception about Meals on Wheels is it's
a service for the poor. 

"In general, it's not usually a case of money. Some people are
very poor and don't have much, and some are quite affluent," she

The program isn't just for the elderly either. People of any age
who live alone often call when they're recovering after a recent
hospital stay and are unable to cook for themselves. Other users
of Meals on Wheels are people with disabilities such as multiple
sclerosis who use the program to help them through a rough time
when cooking becomes too difficult. These two types of short-term
clients are the most common. In 1996, 56.7 per cent of clients in
Halifax used the service for less than three months. 

And then there are those who rely on Meals on Wheels for
long-term service. Sometimes these are people who require special
diets. Such is the case of Herman Kaplan, who orders meals to
suit his wife's diet.

"It's definitely a valuable service. I couldn't do it. You
couldn't eat my meals," he said jokingly.

Meals on Wheels ensures its clients are eating healthy dinners.
"The point is, you get a balanced meal," said Reginald Conrod,
who has been receiving Meals on Wheels three days a week since
March. "I know what I'm getting is good for me, and that's the
main thing."

And it's not just the food that attracts customers. For a lot of
older people living alone, the friendly face of the volunteer and
the few minutes of conversation are "more important to them than
the meal itself," said Ms. Broughm.

The success of the Meals programs lies with people like Frank
Wellard and David Brophy, the volunteers. And there's always room
for more.

"We're always looking for volunteers. We don't get as many as we
used to," said Ms. Broughm. The number of new volunteers in
Halifax in 1996 was nine, up from eight the year before but down
from 31 four years ago.


Contact: Fran Sutherland
         Senior Citizens' Secretariat

ngr               August 25, 1997 - 8:52 am