Meals on Wheels of Stark & Wayne Counties is a community service providing meals in a social or home setting, to assist individuals in remaining healthy, active, and independent of extended care facilities.
Meals on Wheels of Stark & Wayne Counties is a nonprofit organization that has been serving homebound and nutritionally at-risk individuals across the two-county area located in Northeast Ohio for 45 years. The agency was established in 1973 as a senior meal program called The Stark Nutrition Program. Founders included Canton Mayor Stanley A. Cmich, business leader William Belden, Jr. and community leader Jane Schirack. We were initially a direct service of United Way of Central Stark County and became an independent agency in 1991.
Meals on Wheels of Stark & Wayne Counties started as a catered company serving 435 seniors per day through satellite nutrition sites in Stark & Wayne counties. In 1997 the agency expanded and opened its own commissary, unique to this area and specifically designed to meet our community’s needs. The menu is planned by our staff dietitian and prepared by staff professionals, meeting and exceeding all nutritional guidelines recommended by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). More than 13 million meals have been prepared and delivered to clients by thousands of community volunteers over the past 45 years. Today, the agency serves nearly 1,500 meals daily, Monday through Friday, including home delivered and congregate dining. Volunteers from the community deliver meals throughout the two-county area via 16 distribution sites, covering 65 routes every weekday.
Our agency provides much more than a HOT meal. With over 400 volunteers donating their time every week, we are often a homebound client’s only daily contact, so we try to address any concerns immediately brought to our attention or to the attention of the closest family member or emergency contact. Lives have been saved because of the quick response of dedicated volunteers and staff. We offer PEACE OF MIND, as well as NUTRITIONAL SUPPORT.
The agency includes an administrative office plus commissary; conveniently located between the two county regions it serves, and 16 site locations for timely distribution of meals to our clients. Governed by an Executive Committee and Board Trustees, Meals on Wheels of Stark & Wayne Counties’ daily operations are managed by Chief Executive Officer Ted Watko.
Community involvement does not stop with our Board of Trustees at Meals on Wheels of Stark & Wayne Counties. We have established relationships with local hospitals and businesses, including the Pro Football Hall of Fame Marathon, the Timken Company, AEP and the Wooster Chamber all who have had employee volunteers deliver meals to our clients. Service collaborations along with strategic partnerships have been necessary as our agency seeks ways to offset shortfalls created by economic downturns and funding cuts. We have worked to create opportunities for our community to invest in itself through fundraising efforts and by seeking the support of generous foundation and corporations, including the Aultman Foundation, Wal-Mart Foundation, Banfield Charitable Trust, Royal Canin, The Austin-Bailey Health and Wellness Foundation, CareSource Foundation, Health Foundation of Greater Massillon, BJ’s Charitable Foundation, the Home Instead Foundation and the Wayne County Community Foundation. These organizations have helped our neighbors who are nutritionally at-risk by supporting our agency’s need for meal subsidies and capital improvements.
Despite the financial difficulties that the agency has endured due to stagnet in federal and state funding programs, Meals on Wheels of Stark & Wayne Counties has continued its mission of providing meals for our neighbors in need. During fiscal year 2017, more than 430 volunteers donated 22,269 hours and delivered 364,913 meals to the homebound clients in need. We also provided 16,910 congregate meals at our 16 sites through two counties. Continuous increases to our biggest necessities, food and fuel, have resulted in a negative effect on our operating budget. Pro-active decisions have been made so as to continue providing services to as many clients as possible including holding our 6th annual fundraiser and seeking grant support for the benefit of our clients.
Meals on Wheels of Stark & Wayne Counties has served as the pilot agency for several national programs, including Community Connections: Moving Seniors Toward Wellness, a cooperative agreement between MOWAA and the U.S. Administration on Aging as well as the MOWAA adopted March for Meals.
As we are now into our 45th year of providing a life-saving service to our community, Meals On Wheels of Stark & Wayne Counties’ primary focus is to provide nutritional support to the homebound, elderly, and disabled while keeping an eye on the growing need in our community to do even more. The need to help clients continues to grow, regardless of increased costs or decreases in funding. We are poised on the edge of an exciting future, which includes offering services to a growing population of those under the age of 60 that are struggling with the recent economic hardships, leaving them in need of nutritional support, and working more closely with the medical community to support their goals of lowering hospital re-admission rates caused by lack of nutritional support at home. As a successful community-based organization, we continue to seek opportunities designed to help us assist those people in our community with the greatest need, the hidden hungry.