For the past two weeks, Meals on Wheels Plus of Abilene has been serving clients in Runnels County and so far, so good, those involved say. However, officials with Meals on Wheels Plus, say they are still trying to iron out all the kinks and make sure those that need to the service, are getting a hot meal five days a week.

For the past two weeks, Meals on Wheels Plus of Abilene has been serving clients in Runnels County and so far, so good, those involved say.  However,  officials with Meals on Wheels Plus, say they are still trying to iron out all the kinks and make sure those that need to the service, are getting a hot meal five days a week.

Betty Bradley, executive director of Meals on Wheels Plus, is  taking on Title XX and Title III home delivered meal clients from the Department of Aging and Disability Services. As of Friday there were 52 clients in Runnels County who were being served by Meals on Wheels. She has contracted with Meals for the Elderly of San Angelo to provide one or two meals to clients in Miles five days a week.

The meals are delivered to First Baptist Church in Winters each day, and then shuttled to the First Baptist Church in Ballinger, where they are delivered by volunteers from local churches in each town.

Bradley said there is currently a waiting list of about 15 people. Bradley has hired Lupe Vazquez and Melody Gallant, to serve as administrator/case managers in Winters and Ballinger respectively. Both of the part time employees will be conducting home visits in the coming weeks with the current clients to make sure all needs are being met.

Both Vazquez and Gallant will be responsible for signing up clients, doing home visits as required by DADS, coordinating fundraisers and volunteers.

“We are putting everyone on the waiting list that has requested meals,” Bradley said. “There are going to be people in both communities that need meals and we’ll be happy to serve them. Plus, we need people to call us if they were receiving meals and have not received them since the change over.

Meals on Wheels Plus took over the home delivered meals program on Oct. 1, after the Runnels County commissioner voted to stop funding the program for the 2016-17 budget year. Runnels County still pays for utilities and equipment at senior centers in Ballinger and Winters.

In Winters, the program is running well, thanks to plenty of church volunteers. On Tuesday, five volunteers showed up at First Baptist Church and delivered about 30 meals to clients in the Winters area.

“It is a special feeling to be able to serve the people of our community,” said volunteer Mary Jo Tucker.

Vazquez echoed that sentiment and adding that all of the Winters volunteers had attended training at the church about a week ago.

In Winters, the delivery of the meals has rotated weekly between five churches – First Baptist Church, the Winters Church of Christ, First Methodist Church, St. John’s Lutheran Church and Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church, which was delivering meals Tuesday.

“It is going smooth,” Vazquez said. “It is just a wonderful feeling when you can fill the needs of others and the folks are very appreciative.”

Bradley said it is still important that the community support the Meals on Wheels Plus program, both with volunteers and fundraisers.

“We are so appreciative of both communities coming up with financial support and volunteers,” Bradley said. “We are a non-profit and it is important that businesses, individuals and churches and the entire community support the program.

The Winters community is stepping up. On Wednesday several community groups including the Friends of the Gus Pruser Exhibit and the Winters Lions Club will host a pancake supper from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Winters Activity Center for Senior Citizens. They will be serving pancakes, sausage and drinks.

Meanwhile, those that want to sign up program may do so.

Private pay clients are welcome too. It currently will take from three days to a week to get the client processed with a home visit, paper work and on the delivery route.

“We are interested in providing meals to persons age 60 or over, or age 18 -59 and up to 60 that has one or more disabilities or who cannot prepare meals themselves,” Bradley said. “It can also be temporary – while a person is recovering from surgery or an illness.”

Meals on Wheels provides 1,100 meals per day to clients in Abilene, Potosi, Hamby and the Hawley and Hodges area. Meals on Wheels is a private non-profit organization with a 24-member board of directors. 

 Bradley said next year she would apply for the Texans Feeding Texans grant from the Texas Department of Agriculture, which will allow the agency to feed more clients.

“We are interested in serving as many clients as we can in Runnels County,” Bradley said.

Call  Vazquez at 325-665-9341 in Winters or Meals on Wheels Plus at 325-672-5050 for information or to get on a waiting list.