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Some major changes are being made to the Meals On Wheels service for seniors, locall

RITA A. LEONARD - Korean War Veteran Bruce Wickward told THE BEE he has enjoyed the meals and company he found while dining in the now-closed Meals On Wheels Center in Brooklyn; standing with him is a resident of Sacred Heart villa, Priscilla Manning. On July 2, the Meals On Wheels lunch program for seniors moved out of its recent Sacred Heart Villa quarters, at Milwaukie Avenue at S.E. Center Street in Brooklyn.

Communications Director Julie Piper-Finley announced that since most recipients preferred not to eat at the Center, home delivery for the Thelma Skelton service area moved to back the Moreland Presbyterian Church at 1814 S.E. Bybee Boulevard in Westmoreland, where it had originated in 1971. Program Manager Jody Grant told THE BEE, "We are grateful to them for now hosting us for essentially $25 a month."

Grant continued, "After careful examination of community needs and rising costs, [we are] transitioning some of our services in all of the areas we serve. In order to provide high quality service, focused on individual needs, we are investing in expanding our home delivery support and outreach to under-served and vulnerable populations."

About a hundred volunteer drivers were told in early June that delivery route order and assignments would remain unchanged in the Monday through Thursday time frame. "We will no longer be delivering on Fridays, so if you are a Friday delivery driver, we would like to explore options for your continued involvement in the program," invited Grant. "Check with me at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it."

Grant explained further, "We're facing rising costs across the board, especially in food and labor. Additionally, we have had our Multnomah County funding dramatically cut. This transition helps save us over $200,000 – the cost of on-site dining programs is very expensive. We do have other dining rooms that participants from [Brooklyn's] Sacred Heart Village are able to attend. We plan to serve older adults, regardless of their income or housing status."

About those other dining rooms: The Meals On Wheels downtown location at 1032 S.W. Main Street, is "a bus ride and a few blocks distant." The Belmont location, at 4610 S.E. Belmont Street, is "less than a four-mile drive away."

Grant added, "We will work with individual participants who eat at Sacred Heart Villa to find another meal access, including possible delivery to the building. This way the community can continue to serve the most vulnerable and isolated with minimal disruption."

The nonprofit organization, long known as "Loaves and Fishes", officially changed its name to "The Meals On Wheels People" in the recent past.

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