Caring for elders of a community is a tradition in Alaska that goes back thousands of years in native Alaskan culture. A tradition that is carried on today at the Kenai Senior Center through the Meals on Wheels program and workers like Patty Segura, “The Meals on Wheels is part of the national program that began back in 1961 with the enacting of the Older Americans Act and part of that act is to allow seniors to remain independent,” Segura told the Dispatch in an interview during her daily route from the center to the homes of her clients. “Meals on Wheels was started here by envoy Craig Fanning of the Salvation Army in around 1976, then in 1980 Pat Porter lobbied to have the city take the program on and last year alone we served over 27,000 meals and this is my sixth year driving and we have an awesome cook Missy and Bob who prepare the meals which are hot, nutritious and delicious every day and then I load them in my van and off I go,” said Segura.
Thirty seven year Alaskan, twenty two year Kenai resident William Kreiter lost his wife a few years back and doesn’t get around like he use to and looks forward to Patty’s arrival at his apartment every day, “It’s a live saver! Literally! I can’t cook anymore, not that I ever was a cook in the first place,” laughed Kreiter, “But it’s a wonderful program and I love the food they fix, its good stuff,” added Will. This year’s pie auction held April 25th at the Kenai Senior Center was a great success according to Segura and shows the community support for the Meals on Wheels program. “It’s a great turn out every year and keeps this program going which means so much to our clients, they appreciate knowing the community is out there for them and Jake and I, the other driver appreciate being able to see them every day. Will is my first stop and always starts my day off with a hug and a smile,” said Patty. To qualify for Meals on Wheels you only have to be 60 or older and have a doctor’s order. For more information contact Joy Hall at the Kenai Senior Center, call 283-4156 or go to www.kenaiseniorcenter.com