Q-and-A with Meals on Wheels Director

Your pennies, dimes, and quarters are quickly adding up. Since we launched the Farmers’ Round Up campaign benefiting the Thompson Senior Center’s Meals on Wheels program in early February, we’ve raised $4,169 in donations. These monies will go toward helping the center provide hot meals for our neighbors in need.

We were curious to learn more about the program and how it has been impacted by Covid-19. Thank you to Deanna Jones, the Thompson’s Center executive director, who took the time to answer our questions. Suffice it to say, your donations are making a real difference in people’s lives in our community.

Q. Who do you serve?

A. The Thompson Senior Center nutrition program provides over 20,000 meals annually.  The home-delivered Meals on Wheels program delivers hot, delicious, and nutritious meals to older Vermonters throughout the towns of Woodstock, Bridgewater, Barnard, and Pomfret. 

During normal times we serve meals in our dining room as well (average about 50/day), but those have now become curbside take-out meals (average about 30/day). These and Meals on Wheels are often the main meal of the day and sometimes even serve as lunch and dinner for recipients at home.  

Q. How has Covid-19 impacted demand for meals?

A. In 2020, we delivered 12,296 Meals on Wheels (MOW)—a dramatic increase over the 9,808 meals delivered in 2019!  

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve served 88 NEW recipients.  

Q. Where do you deliver, and how often?

A. We have 30 volunteers who deliver meals each week.   Currently, 40 meals are delivered each day (Monday through Friday) to the furthest reaches of Barnard, Bridgewater, Pomfret, and Woodstock.  Some routes take up to an hour because of the distances.  On Friday, extra meals are delivered for the weekend as well. 

The daily deliveries serve as a valuable check-in for many participants. 

We have a “contactless” delivery system now, but if the driver doesn’t see the person they notify us at the Thompson and we call to check on them.   Extra frozen meals are sent in advance of every storm. Milk is sent weekly and extra grocery items whenever we have them.    

Q. Who prepares the meals?

A. We have a talented Chef, Ryan Martin, who graduated from New England Culinary Institute. Chef Ryan prepares a monthly menu that is reviewed and approved by a dietician to make sure that it meets all of the Older American’s Act requirements.  (Sodium is limited and spread out between days and weeks, carbohydrates intake is counted,  adequate vitamin C and A is a must).  

Thank you to everyone who has opted to round up for Meals on Wheels over the past few weeks. Together we’ll reach our fundraising goal of $5K!

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