Lack of volunteers put pressure on Vancouver Island Meals on Wheels program


It’s not fancy, but it is made with love.

“It’s what your aunt would make,” says Carol Harding, current client.

“Good down to Earth food.”

Harding used to deliver Meals on Wheels, but when she had a stroke, she had to call it quits.

Now, she’s one of 30 clients, who tend to be seniors.

They receive fresh meals delivered right to their doorstep.

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning, volunteers gather at Sooke Community Hall to prepare soups, main entrees, and desserts.

But their numbers are dwindling.

“People get burnt out,” says May Anderson, vice president of Meal on Wheels Sooke.

“It’s hard work in a kitchen when you’re planning meals, cooking, and doing all the prep.”

The 83-year-old started volunteering three decades ago for Meals on Wheels, the last one of its kind on the Island.

Now, she says they might have to close up shop.

“We hope that some younger ones will come in and start to help,” says Anderson.

“That’s our main concern right now. We really need help.”

They’re looking for cooks who are willing to spend a couple hours of their time serving back to the community.

Something one volunteer has done for 10 years.

“Many old people are lonely cause they don’t get out,” says Frank Gertsma, delivery driver.

“They like to see somebody that will talk to them. As long as I can keep driving, I intend to do it.”

While the 88-year old has no intentions of slowing down, two chefs recently stopped due to poor health.

“Sooner or later, everyone else who works in the kitchen will be in the same situation as me,” says Harding.

“We’ll all have to eat commercial stuff and the difference between homemade and commercial is night and day.”

Until then, Meals on Wheels will continue serving Sooke, in hopes that the next generation will lend a helping hand before it’s too late.

There are other Meals on Wheels programs on Vancouver Island, including programs in Nanaimo and in Port Alberni.

Aaron GuillenAaron Guillen

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