"We could never begin to be able to afford to deliver (meals) to 250 to 280 people a day without using volunteers," Volunteer Coordinator Shelia Perkins said. The application process for volunteers includes a background check.
Volunteers pick up packaged meals prepared by Cobb Senior Services staff. They personally deliver the meals to seniors on a specified route. A cold portion, such as milk and fruit, is also included in the meal which always meets USDA requirements.
Perkins explained it takes at minimum 10 volunteers for a route. Typically, church groups, businesses and other volunteer organizations man the 20 routes in Cobb County. Volunteers drive their own car and supply their own gas. Larger groups can "Adopt-a-Route" and deliver meals on the same route every week.
Perkins said that it is generally harder to find volunteers for the Austell, Mableton and Powder Springs routes. Even if routes are open, seniors still receive meals. Instead of receiving hot meal, the senior may receive a frozen meal the day before.
"We're not going to let anyone go hungry or go without," Perkins said, explaining that additional support is available such as liquid supplements or other food commodities under certain circumstances. Clients must complete an assessment to qualify for the program.
Not only do volunteers make sure that a hot, nutritious meal is served, but also that each client is made to feel special with personal visits.
"It's just as important for the homebound seniors to have that personal contact," Perkins said. "These volunteers really get to know these people. Our homebound seniors generally all have some kind of frailty. It can get worse overnight. If nobody's checking them, nobody knows."
If you would like to make a secure online donation to Meals on Wheels or learn more, visit www.cobbseniors.org and to volunteer, call (770) 528-5381.