Kenai Council rolls in new Meals on Wheels van

In the last decade, the number of home-bound seniors served through the Kenai Senior Center’s Meals on Wheels program has almost doubled — and it’s still growing.

“It has grown considerably,” Kenai Senior Center Director Rachael Craig said.

In August, 2004, the program served 993 meals to home-bound seniors, according to the senior center’s September report. In August, 2012, the program served 1,931 meals, according to the report.

In August of this year, the program served 2,582, according to the report.

The program’s members have grown, too, Craig said. In 2001, when Craig took her job at the senior center, the program had about 25 clients, she said. It now ranges between 75 and 80, she said.

Wednesday, the Kenai City Council accepted a donated van for the senior center’s Meals on Wheels program. The 2013 Ford Transit is the second vehicle in the program’s fleet.

The senior center’s program delivers warm meals on weekdays to seniors in Kenai, Soldotna and Kasilof who cannot leave their homes, said Joseph Jolly, president of Kenai Senior Connection, Inc., the program’s fundraising branch.

With only one van meals arrived late. But now, with two vans, lunch will arrive at noon.

The program can also deliver more meals with an additional van.

But there’s more to the Meals on Wheels program, Craig said.

“Alaskans are very independent,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re 25 or 88; people want to keep their independence as long as they can.”

The money for the new van came from the Kenai Senior Connection, Inc. “March for Meals” late March fundraiser, according to Craigs memo to the council. For the program, $22,000 was raised; the van cost $22,413, according to the memo.

Dan Schwartz can be reached at daniel.schwartz@peninsulaclarion.com.

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