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ABOUT 1,300 MEALS ARE DELIVERED daily to homebound seniors and congregate sites for seniors to dine together locally as part of the Meals On Wheels program.

In Stanislaus County Meals On Wheels not only provides a hot lunch to seniors, but is also providing training for developmentally disabled adults.

The meals are prepared fresh everyday and delivered to each site immediately after. The menus are created by a registered dietitian especially for seniors.

Currently Howard Training Center in Ceres, has three job coaches that help to supervise 10 participants who prepare the meals.

"The participants especially enjoy preparing meals and doing exciting jobs," said Juan Mendez, kitchen manager at Howard Training Center. "And the kitchen is an exciting job."

The center works with developmentally disabled participants as part of a job-training program. The program helps participants prepare meals in hopes of eventually getting the participants out in the community doing other job duties.

"Knowing that you have provided a meal and company to seniors is very rewarding," said Misty Ridenour, program manager of senior meals. "Being able to give back to the seniors in our community is so simple."

Howard Training Center has 11 routes delivering to Ceres, Hughson, Turlock, Modesto, Salida, Newman, Wesley, Grayson, Patterson, Waterford and Oakdale.

The Salvation Army on Lander Avenue in Turlock is one of 13 congregate sites offering meals to seniors. The site serves anywhere from 20 to 25 meals a day to any senior 60 years or older. Each congregate site offers nutritional information, activities, and the opportunity to meet and make friends.

Margery Gumm and Elsie Baptista have been receiving hot meals at the Salvation Army for nearly five years.

"I like the food here as long as it's not too spicy," Baptista said.

"I like it here it, (the food) is really good," Gumm said. "They do a good job of not putting to much salt."

The Meals On Wheels Association of America (MOWAA) is one of the oldest and largest organizations in the United States dating back to 1939.

MOWAA is a non-profit organization operating solely on community donations and grant funding. The organization provides meal services to people in need to women and men that are elderly, homebound, disabled, frail, or at risk.

The organization focuses on providing quality meals and nutritional services to as many people as possible in the most efficient and effective manner.

For more information in about the Senior Meal Programs call 593-5632.

Roxana Samano may be contacted at 534-9141 ext. 2041 or