WesleyLife, provider of nearly 1,000 meals a day to older adults and military veterans of all ages across the Des Moines Metro through its Meals on Wheels program, has been selected to supply meals for congregate meal sites in Polk County, county leaders announced this week.
County supervisors also voted to continue a public-health nursing contract with WesleyLife, paving the way for WesleyLife to continue to provide skilled and specialized nursing and care services for qualifying Metro residents, helping them attain or maintain independence.
“We’re honored to have been selected to serve the congregate sites to help meet the ever-growing need and decrease the incidence of food insecurity in these populations,” Shannon Draayer, Director of Health and Well-Being for WesleyLife, said. “We’re looking forward to offering menu items that are not only healthy, but will appeal to a variety of tastes and palates.
“We are thrilled with this opportunity and are also honored to have again been awarded the public health contract. Polk County continues to invest in the health and well-being of our residents, especially the most vulnerable. We share that commitment, and the efforts approved today will make a lasting impact on our community.”
Congregate meals are offered at 15 sites throughout Polk County and are available on a suggested-contribution basis to anyone 60 or older. Authorized by the Older Americans Act (OAA), congregate meals seek to reduce hunger and food insecurity; to promote socialization of older individuals; and to promote health and well-being by providing access to nutrition.
Polk County Supervisor Angela Connolly calls WesleyLife an invaluable partner in the fight against food insecurity, saying the selection of WesleyLife as the congregate-meals provider is a natural fit.
“The Board of Supervisors has the utmost confidence in WesleyLife’s ability to provide for an even larger number of our residents in need,” Connolly said. “With Polk County's support and WesleyLife's determination, these services help to provide a better quality of life as countless older adults are able to remain in their own homes.”
Draayer agrees the selection of WesleyLife as meal provider for the community meal sites is natural continuation of the program’s mission, especially as WesleyLife works to expand the reach of its services.
A new Meals on Wheels campus is under construction near Drake University to replace the current one near downtown; the move will triple meal capacity and provide opportunities for intergenerational connection.
"It may surprise people that food insecurity is so prevalent here in the Metro,” Draayer said. “It's everywhere throughout our community, regardless of what ZIP code you live in. The goal of Meals on Wheels is to deliver ready-to-eat meals at people’s doorsteps — but our drivers also perform well-being checks to help provide peace of mind to participants and their loved ones.
“We’re thankful to Polk County for making it possible for us to enhance our impact in serving some of the Metro’s most vulnerable populations.”