DCH Corner – Additional Benefits Added to the Leon Community Meals Program

In 2016, a National Foundation to End Senior Hunger survey found that 16 percent of seniors face the threat of hunger in the United States. This hits especially close to home in Leon and Decatur County. Due to food insecurity in our community, we collaborate with the Leon Community Meals Program to provide meals to community members who join the program.

In a survey taken of our Leon Community Meal Program participants, Decatur County Hospital found that 29 percent 1) would not have at least one hot meal without the delivery service, 2) would have days that they would not get enough to eat if they did not have our meals, and 3) would only see our delivery driver on a given day, and not interact with anyone else. These three major concerns are issues that our program tries to solve.

Typically, the Leon Community Meals Program serves members in the Leon Community Center, and delivers meals to those that are homebound. With the onset of Covid-19, we have moved all of the meal program service to in home deliveries. Each weekday, we prepare hot, delicious, and nutritious meals, and volunteers from the Leon Community Meals Program deliver the meals packaged in individual containers.

As we adapt our service for this program, we continually try to increase the benefit of this service to ensure that our meals program participants have proper food to meet their needs. As an example, this summer, we provided bags of non-perishable food to ensure our meal program members had additional food options to supplement our hot meals. This winter, we have added yet another opportunity.

In order to reduce waste, and ensure that the food we cook is used to the fullest extent possible, we have started to repurpose extra food from our daily meal service in the DCH cafeteria. On days when there is extra food available in the cafeteria, that food is packaged into individual containers and frozen for later use. As an added benefit to Leon Community Meals Program members, these individually packaged meals are distributed when we have saved up enough meals to feed all members. These meals are provided at no additional cost for regular members. The meals are packaged in a foil container reminiscent of TV dinners, but with much more nutritious food. These meals can remain frozen at the meal program participant’s home, and used for an evening or weekend meal. The meals can be heated up directly in the container, and instructions are included.

If you or someone you know are interested in joining the Leon Community Meals Program to have meals delivered each weekday, and get access to this additional benefit, call Sue Kelly at 641-446-0093. The cost for each regular meal is $4.00 for those ages sixty and over, or $6.00 for all others. There is no additional cost for frozen meals when they are distributed. Some program members may also qualify to have the cost of their daily meals waived through the Medicaid Elderly Waiver program. Program members are not required to take a certain number of meals each week, but have the choice to take only the meals they want or need. We do request that you reserve your meal at least 24 hours in advance by calling Sue Kelly at 641-446-0093. Meals are delivered Monday-Friday, except holidays. However, special meals are provided for holidays to members who need it.

The Leon Community Meals Program is completely operated by volunteers. They are always looking for more help to deliver meals. If you are interested in learning more about volunteering with the Leon Community Meals Program, please contact Sue Kelly at 641-446-0093.

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A frozen dinner of chicken, rice, and vegetables is shown packaged, frozen, and ready for delivery. Frozen meals are packaged with instructions for heating included directly on the lid. Meals are best reheated using a conventional oven.