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Meals on Wheels
updated: Aug 18, 2012, 10:30 AM
Santa Barbara Meals on Wheels is an independent volunteer-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization
dedicated to enhancing the lives of senior, disabled, and/or homebound residents of Santa Barbara. Its
mission is to deliver freshly prepared, hot, nutritious meals every day in support of their efforts to live
independent, dignified lives. Without these meals, individuals might go hungry or eat inadequately, as
they are unable to shop for food or cook for themselves; without the daily social contact with the drivers
there is the risk of depression and isolation.
The organization has served the community since 1971. Madeline Blickley and Lilla Burgess, two local
volunteers who were among those seeing the need for such a program, started it. Five years later,
Leanna Miller was hired as the part-time program administrator and her ongoing dedicated service has
contributed to the program's success. Last year, Santa Barbara Meals on Wheels served 260 individual
clients, with typically about 120 clients at any time. Its drivers delivered just short of 34,000 meals for
the year, averaging more than 90 meals a day.
The meals are prepared daily in the kitchen of the Valle Verde Retirement Community, under contract to
Meals on Wheels, for delivery by caring Meals on Wheels volunteer drivers. Late every morning,
weekends and holidays included, these drivers pick up the fresh, hot meals and deliver them promptly
to each client's door around lunchtime. Each hearty meal includes a hot entrée, a starch, vegetable side
dishes, soup, salad or cut fresh fruit, dessert, and a carton of milk. Clients preferring vegetarian foods
or having dietary restrictions associated with diabetes, hypertension, digestive disorders, and other
medical conditions, receive appropriately personalized meals.
With the exception of the part-time paid program administrator and a part-time driver coordinator,
Santa Barbara Meals On Wheels is an all-volunteer organization. Some 90 drivers each donate two-to-
three hours a week to deliver meals to clients. Some donate more and many of them have been doing
this for years. The volunteer Board of Directors is composed of local residents, most of whom also
deliver meals. In addition to establishing administrative and fiscal policies, members of the Board fill a
variety of roles that most organizations have paid staff for. Though the program operates frugally, the
operating expenses significantly exceed the client payments for the meals. The difference is made up by
annual grants from private foundations and charitable trusts, annual grants from Santa Barbara County,
and gifts from businesses and individuals.
People interested in receiving meals through this program and those interested in volunteering or
donating can obtain information from the Program Administrator by calling (805) 683-1563 between 9
a.m. and 11:30 a.m., Monday through Friday (excluding holidays). A home visit by a volunteer will be
scheduled to explain the details of the program and assure that the meals will be delivered to the
proper location. Meal delivery can commence any time after the home visit.
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