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Chuckwagon senior nutrition program celebrates 40 years of service to elders
For Virginia McKinney, the Chuckwagon Meals on Wheels program is wonderful.
McKinney, 85, has been in the program for more than five years, and relies on it for nutritious meals Monday through Friday.
Bremerton Services Association offers a variety of programs dedicated to feeding senior citizens of Kitsap County.
This nonprofit organization consists of a few different programs that have “been providing senior nutrition services to seniors 60 and older throughout the community” for 40 years, according to the executive director, Deborah Horn.
The Chuckwagon programs are all nonprofit, and rely on federal and local grants, fund raisers and donations to help fund the program.
“We are a donation based program, and so we offer clients the opportunity to contribute to their meals,” said Horn.
The Chuckwagon Senior Nutrition Program offers seniors meals at various locations throughout Kitsap County Monday through Friday at noon.
“Seniors can receive a hot meal and social interaction with other seniors,” Horn said.
The organization also has a Meals on Wheels program which provides nutritious meals for seniors who are medically homebound or unable to make nutritious meals for themselves.
For those that live within the city limits of Bremerton, meals are delivered daily. For those that live outside the city limits, they are delivered weekly.
“I’ve been on the program for quite a while,” said McKinney. “I don’t drive. I don’t have a car. So I decided I would order some groceries and cook for myself, but I was a real menace in the kitchen. I have to use a walker to walk, so carrying stuff from the counter to the stove was a real danger.”
Because of this, she was referred to the program and started receiving the meals five days a week, and she “fends for herself” on the weekends through frozen food she keeps on hand, or by getting meals with her daughter and son-in-law.
One aspect McKinney really enjoys about the program is the good service.
“They take surveys every so often to find out how you’re doing,” she said. “They don’t just deliver the food and ignore you.”
According to Horn, the meals provided through these programs are nutritionally balanced meals. The organization has a nutritionist on staff to make sure that quality remains the same.
“I get a very nutritious meal every day,” said McKinney. “I get all the ingredients that I need to stay healthy, and that’s really important when you’re not cooking.”
Another aspect of the Meals on Wheels program is the 50/60 program, available to medically homebound people in their fifties and sixties.
“It’s a short term community funded program,” Horn said. “These are mostly folks who perhaps … are recovering from knee surgery or hip replacement surgery and just need to have a little bit of support during the time they’re recuperating.”
Other programs the organization offers include the Senior Farmer’s Market Program, through which participants are given $40 vouchers that can be used at local farmer’s markets for fresh produce. This program is seasonal, and happens between June and October each year, according to Horn.
“We also work with the Kitsap County Caregivers to provide home delivered meals for family caregivers,” said Horn.
All of these programs are available to anyone 60 years old or older, and can participate in these programs by contacting the organization itself, or getting referred to it.
“Many of our referrals come from family members or friends or potential clients themselves,” said Horn. She also said that they receive referrals from physician offices, social services and more.
Clients also have access to a registered dietician, and can receive dietary counseling and nutrition education, according to Horn.
This year, the Chuckwagon Senior Nutrition Program celebrates its 40 year anniversary, and on Wed., Sept. 18, at Kiana Lodge. There will be a celebration dinner open to anyone who purchases a $50 ticket, and the keynote speaker will be television actress and Northwest resident Linda Evans, according to Horn.
“It will support our Meals on Wheels and Senior Farmer’s Market programs,” said Horn. “It goes right back to feeding the seniors.”
For information on the programs, how to participate or how to volunteer, visit their website at www.chuckwagonseniornutrition.org. or call 360-377-8511.