Friendship and Food: The impact of Meals on Wheels 

By Caylyn Pfizenmaier

The service of Meals on Wheels was founded by the organization known as, North Central Flint Hills Area Agency on Aging Inc. Meals on Wheels is one of many services offered to the community of Clay Center. 

Pam Lilley is the coordinator of the Clay Center branch of Meals on Wheels and has been with the organization for thirteen years. She said that any person living in Clay Center is welcome to order a meal from the company. However, she noted that the main focus is on those who are older and can’t provide for themselves. 

“Anyone can receive the meals, it would just be a full pay price,” she said. “We kind of go toward people who are more homebound or they can’t get out as good or don’t get around as most do.”

Lilley also said that because the organization delivers its meals, they can be a helpful choice to those who either can’t or don’t want to leave their home. 

Meals on Wheels currently serves those within Clay Center, however the organization hopes to serve all of the Clay County area in the future.  

“Right now it’s just Clay Center,” she said. “We are trying to work on getting to where we can have delivery drivers to go to Wakefield, because we’ve had a lot of interest.”

The operation is volunteer based, many local churches from Clay Center take on the task of delivering the meals. 

“The churches here in town alternate months,” she said. The churches pick their days of delivery, “Sometimes volunteers only deliver on certain days, but usually it’s a different volunteer each month.”

The delivery of the meals is an important part of Meals on Wheels – a nod to the organization’s rhyming name. Lilley says that each route is planned through charting and a list to make it efficient and simple for whoever is delivering.

“I go through the charts and we add it to the list, to make the shortest route possible, ” she said. As director, part of her role is planning the best way for meals to land with their recipients. “I hand the list out to the churches and they just follow the routes.” 

Lilley also said that the routes are divided by Highway 24, so delivery drivers are only on one side of town. 

“We have about 30 on the north route and anywhere from 24 to 28 on the south route that receive meals.”

Lilley says that the most fulfilling part of her job is the aspect of service to others within the community. 

“Just knowing that we are helping people in need that are really in need of a good nourishing meal,” she said. “There are a lot of people that I did not realize how bad things are for them in our community, to be able to help them out and to know that we are helping them get at least one good meal a day, that itself is very rewarding.”

For more information on how to receive these services, feel free to contact the Clay Center branch of Friendship meals by calling, (785) 632-5767 or visit the office located on 330 West Court Street in Clay Center. 

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