Non-profit Spotlight: Meals on Wheels of Polk County
Meals on Wheels of Polk County is a private charitable 501c3 nonprofit organization devoted to serving individuals with one hot, nutritious meal each weekday at noontime, while ensuring well-being through personal contact.
Serving Polk County since 1972, Meals on Wheels helps to reduce isolation experienced by so many homebound. Meals are delivered to homes by volunteers, and frequently, the volunteer may be the only person a recipient sees all day. A hot meal and a daily check provides peace of mind to families. It can also be a lifesaving necessity.
Our program provides a means of independence for many of our citizens. Independence is the single most important gift we can give those who have given so much to us over the years.
Serving the cities of Winter Haven, Auburndale, Lakeland, Davenport, and Haines City, Meals on Wheels serves more than 315 homebound recipients daily, and 770 people were served throughout the year last year.
Recipients can receive meals all year or on a temporary basis for illness, surgery, hospital stays, etc. Some recipients are not completely homebound but cannot shop or prepare meals for themselves. Meals are at a discounted cost of $4.50, and 40 percent of our recipients receive a reduced cost meal, also called an “Angel Meal.”
Volunteers are the keys to our success. We need approximately 230 volunteers weekly to ensure daily delivery of meals, which are delivered Monday through Friday. Our volunteers usually work one day a week but substitutes are always needed for the 26 delivery routes. Volunteers pick which day they are available and want to serve. We also rely on volunteers for the kitchen with meal preparation and packing, and also in our Winter Haven thrift store.
The Meals on Wheels Thrift Store, located behind our offices at 620 6th St NW in Winter Haven, provides one third of our income, helping us to continue to deliver meals for the homebound.
The thrift store is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. We accept quality donations of clean clothing, furniture, and household items.
No government funds are received. In addition to food donations and funds received through the sales of the thrift shop, we are funded by individual, business, and community donations. Monetary gifts go far. We have an Adopt-a-Recipient program, as follows:
– $25 gift will feed 1 person for a week.
– $100 will provide meals for a month.
– $1,200 will feed a homebound recipient for a year.
These gifts ensure that when a recipient with limited income needs a meal, they will be served.
Other fundraising opportunities include:
Christmas Day Adopt a Meal: The Meals on Wheels office is closed Christmas Day. Volunteers prepare extra from their own Christmas meal or purchase a meal for a recipient and deliver it around noon on Christmas Day.
Christmas Gifts: Home Instead Provides Santa to a Senior. Trees are placed around town in different stores with tags so you may buy a gift for one of our recipients. The gift is delivered by one of our caring volunteers, along with a hot meal.
Holiday Donation Time: Beginning November 1 is our Holiday Donation time. Last year we collected $40,000 from individuals, businesses, organizations, and churches to help us continue our mission.
Those wanting to help can do so by volunteering, donating to the thrift store, donating much needed funds, and by spreading the word that Meals on Wheels serves meals.
Our Mission: The Meals on Wheels staff and volunteers will coordinate with our community, businesses, churches, organizations and individuals to deliver a hot, nutritious meal and a daily contact to the homebound of Polk County. A meal, and so much more, compassion.