I recently spent a day with a driver of home-delivered meals and was very touched by the relationships between those who deliver meals and those who receive them.
Several seniors told me how much they appreciate the service.
“I don’t know what I’d do without them. These girls are wonderful,” one woman said.
I worked with Sara Beebe, who has been delivering meals since April. She had her route memorized and the majority of people we visited knew her by name.
We started off at the Enrichment Centers for Huron County building on Shady Lane Drive, where we prepared the food.
My coworkers for the day worked as a team to get the food ready for delivery. My task was scooping mashed potatoes into the trays.
The food smelled good and made me hungry. No surprise there.
We were serving meatloaf, corn and mashed potatoes — the “hot food” for the day. For “cold food,” seniors are given a cup of fruit and can choose between a piece of bread or a roll and then a drink, typically milk or juice.
The seniors receive a menu a month in advance and circle whether they want the main course for each day or if they would prefer chicken instead.
One woman joked with us, saying some months she mostly has chicken because she’s a picky eater.
We loaded the food for our route into the truck and got going.
The back of the truck has a section where it keeps food warm and a section where it keeps food cold, which was very useful.
Throughout my shift with Beebe, rain poured on and off. Despite the weather, we went to every house on our list and delivered our meals.
I was soaked but that just made it a more memorable experience.
We visited 26 people that day. The number of meal recipients on a route varies because sometimes they are away for an appointment such as a doctor’s visits or hospital stay.
The route took us a couple hours to complete. It can take longer, depending on how much they want to talk. We typically stayed only a couple minutes. A few visits were longer though.
The drivers write down the time they leave each house and track their vehicle’s miles.
Beebe was going to miss work the following day, so she told each person we visited that someone else would be filling in for her. Feelings about Beebe’s visits were made clear by the seniors’ reactions to this. Many said they would miss her or seemed sad when they found out she would not be back the next day.
It was obvious Beebe took a personal interest in each senior and did her job well.
Meal drivers also set tables for lunch at the senior enrichment center and help with preparation for the next day’s meals after returning from their routes.
I appreciate all the work these drivers do and especially the care they have for the seniors. Not everyone can have the patience and motivation for a job like this. Delivering meals to area seniors is beyond a job; it’s a public service.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The “Mad about…” series involves day-in-the-life stories about local workers. The Reflector’s Madeline Roche spends time doing their jobs and then tells readers what it's like. If you would like your business to be featured, call 419-668-3771 or email email@example.com.
Position: Home-delivered meal driver
Qualifications: Must have high school diploma or GED, must be certified in CPR/ first-aid, must be able to multi-task and must be able to do basic math. Drivers also must be able to lift at least 25 pounds and handle a variety of weather conditions.
Pay range: $9 per hour ($10 with CDL)