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Special deliveries: Meals on Wheels helping Rocklin seniors

Volunteers make Seniors First program a success
By: Krissi Khokhobashvili, Placer Herald and Press Tribune editor
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Seniors First

To learn more about how Seniors First serves seniors throughout Placer County, and to learn how to become a volunteer, visit www.seniorsfirst.org or call (530) 889-9500.

“If I didn’t have Meals on Wheels, I’d be in big trouble, food-wise,” said Lynne Spadini as she enjoyed her lunch under the watchful eye of her dog, Lexie.

One of hundreds of Placer County clients served a hot meal every day, Spadini is isolated, with no transportation to and from her Rocklin apartment. She was using a grocery store home-delivery service, she said, but it was just too expensive.

“As good as my family is, and they’re very good, it’s hard to keep saying once a week, ‘Can you take me here, you take me here, can you take me there?’” she said. “It’s really hard on them, so this helps a lot.”

Placer County’s Meals on Wheels program is one of many services offered by Seniors First. From its popular resource guide and isolated senior visitation program to door-to-door transportation services and home-delivered meals through its Senior Nutrition Program, the nonprofit’s mission is to keep seniors independent.

Jim Lanier, of Lincoln, is one of 35 volunteers who deliver hot meals in Rocklin. According to Seniors First, an average of 20 meals are served to isolated seniors every weekday in Rocklin, while another 13 clients gather at Senior Cafés to enjoy their hot meal.

“I enjoy doing Meals on Wheels,” said Lanier, who is retired from the Air Force and private industry. “You get to go a lot of different places, you get to go outside, you get to meet a lot of different people.”

Shea Cullen, volunteer coordinator for Seniors First, explained that without the team of 365 active volunteers, the program would not be possible.

“It’s completely essential to everything we do,” he said. “Without our volunteers, we would not be able to do Meals on Wheels, we wouldn’t be able to do door-to-door transportation, and those are our two biggest programs.”

Countywide, 248 hot meals are served each day at the Senior Cafés and via home delivery, according to Seniors First. The meals are prepared by Bateman Senior Meals in Sacramento, then heated and served hot each day.

A Seniors First assessor determines whether a senior meets the income and isolation requirements to receive the free Meals on Wheels. While the community with the largest number of seniors served is Roseville, Cullen said, the need is apparent throughout Placer County.

“Some people are in more need than others,” he said. “Some people will use this meal and break it down into two meals. There are seniors that this is the only thing they’re eating in one day.”

“It means to me that I can get good food,” said Diana Christensen, who started receiving Meals on Wheels at her Rocklin home in December. “You know, when you’re cooking for one, it doesn’t go too well. You go to the store and you have all these veggies and all that stuff, and you buy it and find out, well gee, you’ve got to eat it all. And I just feel that it’s hard to be on your own.”

The hot meals are prepared specially for seniors, with no sodium, minimal spices and representing one-third of their recommended dietary allowance. Each month has a different theme, usually representing ethnic flair, such as ethnic food. Spadini said she particularly enjoys the meatloaf and meatballs, and said she tried a chicken teriyaki dish that was “just delicious.”

“The whole point of us being here is there are so many seniors who can’t afford to have food in their home,” said Kat Lombardi, who manages the Senior Café and Rolling Oaks in Rocklin. “There are a lot of seniors who don’t get even one hot meal a day. So our mission is to make sure as many seniors as possible get at least one hot meal a day.”