Meals on Wheels: Delivering nutritious meals since 1967

Meals on Wheels volunteer Barbara Baltisberger of Marshalltown delivers more than a nutritious meal to clients, she is a personal contact and checks on their well being.

None of the above is a chore, she welcomes the opportunity.

“For some, I am the only personal contact they will have during the day,” she said. “I’ve helped people get out of bed and assisted them to the table to eat, too. And it is good we stop by to check up on those who live alone.”

Baltisberger is one of 90 volunteers who takes turns delivering a daily noon meal to Marshalltown residents.

“I signed up to help 30 years ago,” she said. “Our church, St. Paul’s Episcopal made a commitment to provide volunteers and we are still involved.”

Husband Bill Baltisberger recently joined Barbara in the effort – he drives and does other tasks.

“Bill is a good partner,” she said. “With two of us, it takes little time. And it is a way of helping people.”

In 2012, volunteers delivered 12,508 meals.

“The program has been providing 750 meals per month as of late,” according to Abby Kersbergen of Marshalltown, who serves as volunteer president for Meals on Wheels of Marshalltown.

“I enjoy them,” said Delores Bavender of Marshalltown of the meals. “I started taking them two years ago when I was ill. The food is good and the program helps people remain in their homes or apartments.”

Paul and Beverly Heckman were recommended to the program by their physician.

Beverly is disabled, and it is difficult for her to stand long periods.

“They offer a variety of food,” she said, “and the volunteers are nice.”

Meals are prepared daily at MMSC by its Food and Nutritional Services staff, under the supervision of a registered dietitian. The meals meet dietary recommendations prescribed by the client’s physician.

Hot and or cold meals are available which include a serving of protein (meat, poultry or fish) and two side items.

Each meal is $2.85, and clients are billed monthly.

Food stamps are accepted, and the program is a provider under the Care Management Program for the Frail Elderly.

Anyone needing assistance to maintain independent living is eligible. The approval of the client’s physician is required.

Kersbergen said the organization is in need of volunteers.

“They are the heart of the organization,” she said. “They may deliver individually, in pairs, as a family or in a group.”

Churches and service clubs have been instrumental since the program delivered its first meal March 1, 1967.

The Assistance League, Noon Kiwanis, Salvation Army, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and St. Rita’s Study Club all provided volunteers in the program’s early years, according to Kersbergen.

Currently, the Assistance League, Evening Lions, First Congregational Church, Noon Kiwanis, Noon Lions, Lioness Club, St. Paul’s, Trinity Lutheran Church, St. Patrick’s and St. Rita’s Study Clubs are involved.

To volunteer, contact Iowa Home Care, 641-752-5545. Contributions may be sent to the organization’s treasurer, Jan Stubbs, 2004 Wardview Rd., Marshalltown, 50158.