Central Bucks Meals on Wheels provides food, community interactions


Growing up in central Pennsylvania, Kevin McDonnell has fond memories of his Meals on Wheels volunteer father.

Having been exposed to the organization as a child, McDonnell, chairman of the Meals on Wheels of Central Bucks County board of directors, said he knew he wanted to volunteer for the organization once he retired. and that he was a volunteer driver for seven years.

Last June, the organization celebrated its 50th year of operation in Bucks County. This would not have been possible without community volunteers, according to McDonnell.

“We’ve never had a problem with having volunteers on standby,” he said. “It’s something that has been essential for us to survive for 50 years.”

Since 1972, Meals on Wheels has provided fresh, nutritious meals to residents of the Central Bucks community, but more importantly, it has provided interaction with locals, which has been the most rewarding part of seeing, McDonnell said. .

“It’s gratifying to know that you’re helping people who need you in the community, that you’re serving people who might otherwise be overlooked,” he said.

While the organization has delivered more than 1.3 million meals in Central Bucks, McDonnell said what sets it apart from other food delivery services is a wellness check.

Before the pandemic, McDonnell said many children of clients lived in different regions or states, so spending a few minutes with clients, asking them how they are doing and monitoring their living situation is part of the organization’s focus.

“When you’re driving and you see people’s faces light up when you’re there, it’s more about seeing someone than eating,” Andrea Callan said.

Callan, a year-long board member and four-year Meals on Wheels volunteer, said registration gives many families peace of mind.

For 50 years now, the organization has been committed to “helping people who are housebound to maintain their independence and age in place”.

Monday through Friday, volunteers pack and deliver two daily meals, one hot and one cold, from the Central Bucks Senior Center in Doylestown Township.

Alyce Tyler was one of the program coordinators for Meals on Wheels of Bucks County for 26 years and to this day she still asks herself, “Who can have a better job than me?”

Prior to her co-ordinating days, Tyler and her husband volunteered with the organization for 12 years and she has loved working with volunteers and clients ever since.

“It’s just valuable work,” she said.

“I feel like I’m doing something worthwhile for others. I’ve always wanted to help people, no matter what jobs I did, I wanted to help someone’s life get better and that’s what we do.

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Susan Philipps, a volunteer driver for four months, said volunteering has given her a better idea of ​​how to help people in the community.

“I just think it’s really an amazing resource for people,” Philipps said. “It’s nice to know that someone comes knocking at your door, whatever it is. Maybe it’s not just a meal, just to have someone to say hello to and check on.

Through volunteering, Philipps, 58, from Doylestown, said she was able to learn what a valuable organization it is.

Jim McGowan, another volunteer driver, said he liked seeing the faces of the people he delivered food to because he might be the only one they see that day.

McGowan, 72, from Doylestown, said her biggest lesson was realizing the importance of caring for others.

“I’m lucky to be able to do this. I help provide because I’m able to do it physically and mentally,” McGowan said. “One day I could very well be on the other side of needing that support.”

Guy Wilde prepares egg salad sandwiches for Meals on Wheels customers at Central Bucks Senior Center in Doylestown on Tuesday, July 5, 2022.
Volunteer drivers arrive to wait for hot meals to arrive before going out for Meals on Wheels delivery at Central Bucks Senior Center in Doylestown on Tuesday, July 5, 2022.

Although the majority of clients are seniors, McDonnell said a common misconception about the organization is that it is a financial and age-based program.

However, any resident who lives in Central Bucks communities and needs help preparing their own meals can qualify with no income limit.

“It doesn’t have to be a long-term solution for people,” McDonnell said. “We just want to make sure you get food and are taken care of.”

Independent of the national Meals on Wheels organization, McDonnell said the Central Bucks program receives no government funding and is privately funded through corporations, individual donations and grants.

Organizations like Woodside Meals on Wheels, Philadelphia Corporation for Aging, Klein-JCC’s Home-Delivered Meals, and HomeLink’s Meals on Wheels North and Northeast, also provide meals to area residents, but are not affiliated with the Central Bucks location. .

“We’re just trying to keep things going,” McDonnell said. “We are just caretakers and want this to continue for another 50 (years) for the people who need us in the community.”

Having been with the organization for 38 of its 50 years, Tyler said its existence is significant because many nonprofits do not exist during that time.

“We’re filling that little void of people who are getting lost,” Callan said. “They don’t have family or neighbors who can consistently help them…we are our own community.”


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