Gilford hops on board Meals on Wheels campaign



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Gilford resident Norman Greenwood receives a visit from Meals on Wheels driver Bill Nartif and Gilford Town Administrator Scott Dunn, with a hot meal in hand for Greenwood’s convenience last Thursday afternoon. (Lauren Tiner) (click for larger version)
March 23, 2011
As part of National Nutrition Month this March, Gilford Town Administrator Scott Dunn volunteered to deliver Meals on Wheels to locals through the Elder Services of the Community Action Program catered to Belknap-Merrimack Counties.

The Community Action Program, in conjunction with the Meals on Wheels Association of America, is fighting hunger and working to offer elderly citizens the balanced, nutritional meals they require to thrive.

While Elder Services Director of CAP Paul Weston explained that Meals on Wheels offers nutritional meals year round, town representatives often offer to volunteer in the annual March for Meals campaign, helping deliver a handful of the 100 to 1,000 meals a day.

"At our central kitchen in Concord, we serve 1,200 meals out a day, distributed through nine different routes," said Weston. "We are trying to feed the hungry. About 11 percent of seniors nationally are considered nutritionally deficient. We want to aid any senior who wishes to have a hot meal at noon time."

Weston said Meals on Wheels and kitchen services are not based on income through CAP, and while services such as fuel assistance and ramps for senior homes are also available through the program, nutrition is currently the main focus.

"Onsite, we provide entertainment and a good meal; our meals are all based upon the guidelines for senior nutrition. The meals come out of the central kitchen in a large quantity and are broken down into trays. We have 150 stops a day from the Concord kitchen," said Weston.

Along the way are nine senior centers, including Laconia, Meredith, Alton, and Belmont locations. The senior center in Laconia is located on 17 Church St. – once an adult senior daycare service, which has relocated to Concord.

"We are not a daycare facility, but operate three bus routes. We check in on the elderly when we drop off their meals to make sure they are doing well and have heat in their homes. We are also fighting senior isolation," said Weston. "Sometimes the person dropping of the meal may be the only person the senior sees that day."

While the month of March is also dubbed Mayors for Meals, this year Weston decided to include Gilford into the mix. Chairman of the Board of Selectmen Kevin Hayes was originally scheduled to deliver meals last Thursday, although when another commitment arose, Dunn took his place, representing the town of Gilford and showing his support for the campaign.

The Mayors for Meals program is the newest addition to the MOWAA campaign, and pledges to end senior hunger by 2020. This pledge is based on predictions that the senior population will double by year 2050.

This week, Mayor Jim Bouley of Concord, Mayor Ken Merrifield of Franklin, and Mayor Michael Seymour of Laconia will deliver meals to seniors in their represented towns as part of a new, annual program.

Elder Services of CAP Belknap-Merrimack Counties, established in the 1960s, has served 970 Meals on Wheels clients 221,978 meals from July 1, 2009 – June 30, 2010.

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