Column: Delivering food, conversation to the housebound

REPORTER FILE PHOTO |  Shelter Island Presbyterian Church is the Meals on Wheels hub for the Island.
Shelter Island Presbyterian Church is the Meals on Wheels hub for the Island.

Did you know that qualified seniors are able to get nutritious meals delivered to their homes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays? It’s all part of the  Island’s “Meals on Wheels” program.

According to Bill Seeberg, who’s been volunteering with the program for some time, it’s part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), funded by the state and county.

To qualify, one must be over 60 years old and for one reason or another, be housebound.

Call Karin Bennett at 749-0291 to check your eligibility. About 20 Islanders get meals delivered. There is no cost for the meals, however nominal donations are accepted.

The menu for a day last week consisted of spiral ham, Greek pasta and romaine salads, bread, milk and juice. Butterscotch pudding was for dessert. All meals are checked for nutritional value, according to Karin, who added that the Town of Shelter Island and both the New York State and Suffolk County Office of the Aging keep the program going.

There are two different delivery routes on opposite ends of the Island and the drivers are volunteers who use their own cars.

The program is 50 years old in this country and was started on the Island 28 years ago by Gert Bourne, according to Bill, who said that it’s a quality of life issue that allows people to remain in their homes a little longer.

I spoke with Joanne Sherman, who, with her husband Hoot, sometimes delivers the food. They arrive at the Presbyterian Church at 11 a.m. and return at noon, after making eight stops and delivering 10 meals. That day she was substituting for Bob Morgan, who usually drives with Hoot.

“For some of the people who get meals, this might be their only social contact time,” Joanne said, adding that they also get checked on at the same time.

“And they’re so appreciative. For one hour’s work, the return is great.”