Meals on Wheels hosts walkathon at Greenbank

Island County Meals on Wheels is switching to tennis shoes on Saturday, May 17.

Island County Meals on Wheels is switching to tennis shoes on Saturday, May 17.

The program is holding a walkathon fundraiser at the Greenbank Farm.

“We need to raise the funds to keep the program going so that we can help our seniors,” said Debbie Metz, director of the nutrition program with Senior Services of Island County and head of the local Meals on Wheels program.

Entrance fee for the walkathon is $20. The event includes a five kilometer walk and a one-mile walk. Each participant receives a T-shirt and goody bag.

Everyone who donates $20 also receives a T-shirt, even if they don’t participate in the walk.

Organizers settled on a walkathon not only to raise money, but also to promote fitness, not just for seniors but for everybody, Metz said.

The idea was originally proposed by Roxanne Dunn-Terry, who was a supporter of Meals on Wheels and fitness.

Dunn-Terry died at the beginning of the year. Metz said she wanted to hold this walkathon in her honor.

“Having it at the Greenbank farm, I thought, was an ideal place, because it kind of brings connection between the north and south of the island,” Metz said. “I thought it was a great idea to have everybody connect for a good cause.”

Metz said that people should participate “to have some fun, enjoy some fellowship in supporting the Meals on Wheels program, helping seniors stay in their homes as long as possible and having a happier and healthier life.”

“Meals on Wheels is a program that’s set up for seniors, vulnerable seniors, who are 60 years old and older, to help them stay independent for as long as possible, and to stay home for as long as possible,” said Metz.

The program delivers meals to seniors who are homebound. Meals are delivered three days a week, and provide hot meals for the day of delivery and frozen meals for the remaining days of the week, depending on what the senior requests.

Approximately 320 seniors are enrolled in the program and about 130 volunteers prepare, sort and deliver the meals.

Volunteer driver Heidi Trumbore said the meals include “condiment bags” which include a dessert, salad, if there is one, and milk. Seniors can choose between whole milk, skim milk and no milk at all.

There are also special meals available for diabetics.

“They get what they want,” Trumbore said.

Trumbore has been involved with Meals on Wheels for about a year.

“I like to see my regular people and say ‘hi’ to them,” she said. “They’re always happy to see a smiling face, and that makes me happy, too.”

Trumbore and Metz agree that nutritious meals aren’t the only benefit to the enrolled seniors. The social aspect is important as well.

“Some of these people don’t get out, and I feel like they appreciate someone to speak a few words with,” Trumbore said.

Volunteers can also help keep an eye on seniors who live alone.

Metz’s father, William Frank, is enrolled in the program. He receives meals three days a week, when he has dialysis.

“Knowing that he’s getting a hot meal and a friendly face delivered three times a week means the world to me,” Metz said.

Frank has been enrolled in the program for about a year, and said he “can’t say any bad about it.”

“It’s always pretty good,” Frank said.

“One of my favorite things is the dessert,” he said. “They’re usually pretty good. They’re not sugar free, but they’re low sugar, which is good, since I’m diabetic.”

To qualify for the Meals on Wheels program, seniors must be at least 60 and homebound, said Meals on Wheels assessor Leslie Saelens.

Saelens screens seniors for eligibility within two weeks of initial contact.

“There’s no income restrictions,” Saelens said, “it’s for everybody who needs it.”

The May 17 walkathon is an important event for the Meals of Wheels program.

“We are always looking for ways to augment our funding for this program, because we are always needing to involve the community and making sure we can sustain this program, and it’s a very valuable program,” said Cheryn Weiser, director of Island County Senior Services.

Weiser said the meals distributed to seniors cost about $8.95 each, but the program only requests donations from those enrolled.

Donations average less than $2 because many can’t afford the full cost.

“About $3 of that is paid by government funding, and the rest of that is raised locally, so that’s why it’s important for people to come out to [the walkathon],” Weiser said.

For more information about the Meals on Wheels program, visit