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Wake Meals on Wheels to expand

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By Leslie Williams

The number of Wake County citizens above age 60 is expected to grow by 50,000 in the next 10 years, and Meals on Wheels of Wake County plans to help meet the needs of that growing segment of the population.

Alan Winstead, its new executive director, says the agency will spend the next year increasing the number of meals it serves by 10 percent.

Winstead arrived at Meals on Wheels in September from the Randolph County Senior Adults Association, where he worked as nutrition and outreach director, coordinating the Meals on Wheels program in the Asheboro area.

The Randolph County agency expanded its nutrition program by 10 percent between 2004 and 2005, a goal he thinks is reasonable for Wake County.

“So I’m optimistic that Meals on Wheels of Wake County will accommodate the growth this area will see in the coming years,” he says.

Meals on Wheels serves about 1,200 meals daily to senior citizens in Wake County, with three of four of the meals delivered to home-bound clients.

The remaining meals are served at eight “congregate dining sites,” which Winstead says also serve as a venue for social interaction between clients.

Typically, individual volunteers deliver the meals, working in one-hour shifts. Those volunteer hours total nearly 30,000 a year, says Winstead – time that is valued at $500,000.

Funding for the agency comes from a mix of public and private funds, but a year-old program seeks to bring corporate donors into a more hands-on role with Meals on Wheels.

The agency’s Adopt-a-Day program allows funders to finance and deliver the meals for a day, a program that many participating companies view as a good team-building activity, says Winstead.

The first companies became involved in the program informally, he says, but in January, the agency will kick off a formal campaign to bring more sponsors on board.

Jodi Hubble, the group’s development director, will oversee the campaign, which aims to 20 donors and $100,000, Winstead says.

Meals on Wheels “will begin a long-range planning process in October to identify some new stretch goals for the organization,” Winstead says. “One of our biggest opportunities will be to just meet the growing needs of the senior population in Wake County.”

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