Donations lag for Meals on Wheels provider as costs, client list expand
After 62 years of marriage, John and Ann Curran have overcome their share of challenges.
About a year ago, the West End residents found they needed help with an important task — cooking.
“I can't stand in order to cook. I don't have the energy,” said Ann Curran, 85, who has emphysema. Her husband, who has congestive heart failure, can't walk on his own.
The Currans have received meal deliveries on weekdays from the Lutheran Service Society's Meals on Wheels program for about a year. But because donations haven't been keeping pace with new enrollments and clients' needs, the nonprofit might have to start a waiting list for the first time since the program began in 1969, said John Dickey, CEO of the society.
The group serves 800 clients, most of whom are at least 60 years old and homebound, in 140 communities. It is one of the largest Meals on Wheels providers in the state, Dickey said.
Lutheran Service requests donations of $5 a day for at least one hot meal and one snack daily per person, but those who can't pay still are served, Dickey said.
Over the past two years, Lutheran Service nearly tripled its spending to provide free meals to $1.5 million. The current year's budget is $3.9 million.
More clients who are dependent on Social Security and who don't have sufficient pension income are using the service. Rent and utility costs for using church kitchens are rising, Dickey said.
Cuts have been made. Four years ago, the nonprofit cooked hot meals and delivered them from 70 kitchens, mostly at churches, in four Pennsylvania counties and West Virginia.
Now, there are 15 kitchens — 10 in Allegheny County, two each in West Virginia and Beaver County and one in Mercer County.
“The consolidation is not affecting clients. But as we get to the rural areas, we may see an impact,” Dickey said.
Seven sites recently were consolidated, including one at a Lutheran church in Oakmont that merged into a kitchen at First United Methodist Church in McKeesport.
Lutheran Service trimmed staff hours and inventory and streamlined production. The group is trying to create more fundraisers, such as the Chefs Harvest Against Hunger event set for November.
Clients and corporate donors contribute about 72 percent of the total cost of providing meals, but the rest of the money must be raised from the public, Dickey said.
About 3,000 volunteers prepare and deliver meals.
Ann Curran said the Meals on Wheels service is “really nice. We appreciate everything they do.”
Robinson residents Don and Betty Baxter have volunteered with the group's Meals on Wheels kitchen at St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church in Carnegie for 15 years.
“I enjoy seeing a very nutritious meal given to these folks,” said Betty Baxter, 80, a retired nurse.
Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5662 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Peduto blasts Wolf’s plan to borrow $3B to shore up pensions
- Derry boy recovering at home after high-profile intestinal transplant
- Pittsburgh is planning to add network of bike lanes through Oakland
- Fugitive arrested at Plum motel on drug, gun charges
- Public Utility Commission will consider Yellow Cab fare hikes
- Central Catholic High School class celebrates 65 years of bond
- School credit ratings a problem for several in Western Pennsylvania
- W.Va. authorities charge 87 with drug trafficking
- Newsmaker: Megan Cicconi
- Amtrak still working to add bicycle racks to Western Pa. train routes
- Projects advance through Pittsburgh planning commission despite opposition