News » Strokes & Plugs

Meals on Wheels wants you

Volunteer to deliver food and companionship to homebound seniors and the infirmed



COMPANY :  Mr. Hudtloff (seated in his home) is one of many residents greeted daily by such Meals on Wheels volunteers as driver Jack Harris who deliver hot, nourishing, tasty food. - PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • COMPANY : Mr. Hudtloff (seated in his home) is one of many residents greeted daily by such Meals on Wheels volunteers as driver Jack Harris who deliver hot, nourishing, tasty food.
Many patients after release from hospitals have difficulty cooking. Since 1973, San Luis Obispo Meals on Wheels has delivered nutritionally balanced meals to homebound infirmed and senior residents. Approaching four decades of nourishing the community, the nonprofit, volunteer-run organization is in financial straits and desperately needs funding and more volunteers.

“We serve people with long-term physical limitations or people who were just released from the hospital from surgery. Some people have been with the program for years, some only a couple of weeks,” says Caty Reno, who has been the director of Meals on Wheels since 1980. Meals on Wheels receives no government assistance, which sets it apart from other nutritional services. “There are restrictions with government funding. We make our own rules,” says Reno.

 There’s no minimum age requirement, and subsidies are available for individuals who can’t afford full payment. “We help as many people as we can,” says Reno. “Some people are aging, and others are going through really tough times right now.”

 The food is prepared through French Hospital Nutritional Services and is picked up by volunteers to be delivered in routes. No experience is required for delivering, just access to a car that can handle a two-hour route, once a week. On average, thirty people are served a day, all within city limits.

 “The friendly hello is very important,” says Reno, “the drivers get to know the clients, and caring friendships are formed.” Since two people deliver together, Reno adds, “Usually it’s fun for a couple of friends to run a route. Volunteers deliver out of the generosity of their hearts.” It’s that simple.

 One lady who’s in her late eighties volunteers two Fridays a month. “She’s been with us since the beginning,” says Caty Reno. “And she rarely misses a week.” Another volunteer sometimes takes her baby along with her on the routes, but most impressive is a volunteer who commutes a long distance to help.

 “One woman lives up near Salinas; she drops her kids off at school in Templeton and then comes to deliver in SLO. After running the route, she picks up her kids from school and drives back home,” Reno marveled.

For assistance, to volunteer, or to donate call 541-1336.

Fast Facts:

 Train to be a state-certified crisis counselor with the Sexual Assault Recover & Prevention Center. Volunteer training begins Feb. 2 and continiues through March 11 on Mondays and Tuesdays from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. The application deadline is Friday, Jan 22. Volunteers are asked to commit to three to four shifts per month on the crisis line, attend monthly in-service meetings, and serve as volunteer for at least six months. For more information, call 545-8888

 Help Cooper Giron’s family purchase an allergin-alert service dog to identify material containing peanuts and nuts, which could be fatal to the boy (see “Give a boy a dog,” Oct. 8, 2009.) The Lutheran Church of Our Savior at 4725 South Bradley Rd. in Orcutt will hold a barbecue benefit on Jan. 30. Call the church at 937-1116 or see for more information …

The Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival will take place on Jan. 15 through Jan. 18 at the Morro Bay Community Center. The festival will feature more than 80 bay, ocean, and land field trips, and includes workshops, lectures, and social events. Renowned nature photographer Rosalie Winard, author of Wild Birds of the American Wetlands, will speak on Saturday evening, Jan. 16. In conjunction with the festival, Pacific Wildlife Care will present Meet and Greet the Raptors that Saturday at 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m., and 4 p.m. at the Morro Bay Veterans’ Hall. See

 The San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden needs volunteers on Tuesday mornings who like to dig, rake, prune, plant, and trim. The garden also needs writers, event organizers, child education specialists, and others to promote the preservation of nature. Call 541-1400 ext. 302

Are you struggling to buy your first home? New two-bedroom and three- bedroom homes are available in San Luis Obispo, starting at $290,900 for first-time home buyers. The Laurel Creek development is located on the southwest corner of Broad St. and Orcutt Rd. For more information call 706-0248.

Intern Lisa Spencer wrote Strokes & Plugs this week. Send your nonprofit and business news to [email protected].

Add a comment