New program delivers fresh, local food right to seniors' doorsteps

New Dawn's Meals on Wheels aims to help seniors who may have trouble accessing groceries

By Wendy Martin, CBC News Posted: Sep 25, 2017 9:00 AM AT Last Updated: Sep 25, 2017 9:00 AM AT

 

A pilot program in Cape Breton is trying to get more healthy food into the hands of seniors.

Meals on Wheels is delivering fresh grocery orders directly to the doorsteps of some clients, along with prepared meals.

"Some seniors aren't cooking as much as they used to, but we definitely have some seniors that definitely very much enjoy cooking, and want to, but they have trouble accessing the groceries," said Claire Turpin, program manager with New Dawn's Meals on Wheels.

Meals on Wheels has teamed up with the Ecology Action Centre and the Cape Breton Food Hub, which sources meat, produce and baked goods from local producers.

Once a week, volunteers with the Age-Friendly Community Food Box program pack Swiss chard, bags of tomatoes and other goods into bright blue grocery bags and deliver them to clients' doorsteps.

"I've got a mother who's in hospital, and I'm waiting for an operation myself," said Brian Hominick of Sydney River. His first food box was delivered late last week.

"I know at some point, I'm going to be laid up and not be able to get out and do things, so I thought, 'Let's give this a try and see if this works.'"

Aging population

Clients pay Meals on Wheels for their food box orders, although there is a $5 weekly subsidy to help offset the cost. Turpin says it's a valuable program in an area with an aging population.

"Most of our clients get a cab or a bus to get their groceries. A lot of our clients have mobility issues, hearing, visual issues. So really we just wanted to give everyone a break, see if this is something we should be looking at."

In the third week of the program, though, interest has been slower than expected. Only seven of the 70 Meals on Wheels clients have signed up for food box deliveries.

Turpin says some may be getting fresh produce from gardens owned by family or friends. She expects interest to pick up as the colder weather approaches.

The program will run until Oct. 26. If it's successful, it could be renewed.