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Meals on Wheels provides nutritious lunches to seniors
Seniors who are 60 years of age or older have an opportunity to not only get a nutritious meal but a chance to socialize with others at congregate meal sites scattered throughout San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties.

The Meals on Wheels program also serves approximately 500 to 700 Stanislaus County seniors who are homebound.

In Stanislaus County, approximately 12,400 fresh, hot meals are prepared at Howard Training Center in Ceres by ARC Catering and delivered to 13 congregate sites three days a week. HTC's ARC Catering has been contracting with the Area Agency on Aging since October 2006, taking over from the Stanislaus County Jail kitchen which had been previously providing meals. About 30 clients - who are high functioning adults with developmental disabilities - and their supervisors work to provide the meals on days of service.

Claudia Miller, executive director of the program, said homebound seniors in Stanislaus County are delivered frozen meals twice a week in an attempt to scale back on gasoline costs. "We had an effort to put more money into the meals versus gas and oil," said Miller. Since seniors are supplied five meals for the week, some days see a delivery of three meals and others two. The meals may be microwaved or heated in a convection oven, and come with bread, milk, juice and fruit.

Ceres resident Tom Dimperio makes his way to the site "every chance" he gets and says the meals are tasty and nutritious.

"You get a chance to visit with nice seniors and spend the time with them," said Dimperio. "It's very good food."

"Most of the time it's very filling," said Trudy Anderson, who finds herself cooking less at home.

Seniors who receive meals at home are not able to leave their home due to a short or long-term health, emotional, or physical condition. Often seniors on home delivery live alone and are not able to prepare a meal. Eligibility to receive home delivered meals is reviewed quarterly by an eligibility specialist who visits the seniors at home at least two times per year. Individually packaged meals are delivered to homebound seniors' homes.

Menus are developed by a registered dietician especially for seniors. Meals are free to seniors but a $3 donation is suggested for each meal which is used to provide more meals for seniors.

Reservations are required to ensure a meal at congregate sites. Each site has its own separate number for reservations.