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Tuesday October 4th

Meals on Wheels celebrates 40 years of service

<p>Stacey Yusko, the executive director of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Meals on Wheels, speaks at a celebration event.</p>
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Stacey Yusko, the executive director of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Meals on Wheels, speaks at a celebration event.

“Meals on Wheels delivers lunchtime meals to elderly, disabled and homebound people,” said Stacey Yusko, executive director of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Meals on Wheels.

She said Meals on Wheels gets its meals from K&W Cafeterias and adds a piece of fruit, milk, a roll and homemade desserts from volunteer bakers.

Meals go out Monday through Friday, and a sack lunch, made by Nantucket Grill and Bar, goes out on Fridays.

“A lot of the issues we deal with are people at home by themselves who don’t see anybody,” Yusko said.

The event, held at St. Thomas More Church, featured local leaders who spoke about their appreciation of the organization’s volunteers.

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro branch delivers meals to 270 clients every day. This is done with the hard work of more than 200 volunteers who drove 75,000 miles delivering meals in 2015. This adds up to 41,000 meals being delivered in 2015.

But many who work for or benefit from Meals on Wheels said it’s not just meals being delivered, but community.

Jeanie Arnel was specifically honored at the event because of her 30 years of service as executive director of Meals on Wheels before Yusko took the position.

“Our motto was, ‘We serve more than meals,’” Arnel said.

Arnel described being a volunteer in the ’70s when the executive director stepped down, saying she interviewed for the position against a large number of young men at the time.

Arnel said she got the job because she was older and in her 40s, and the board thought she would stick around longer.

She stayed for 30 years, proving them right.

Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger was also at the event and used the opportunity to talk about a new pilot program called Food for Kids Over the Summer.

Hemminger said a decrease in state education funding has led to a lack of summer classes and programs at schools where kids would receive free lunches.

Through the program, and in partnership with several local nongovernmental organizations, the state government and UNC, Hemminger hopes to double the number of summer meals for K-12 students.

There are 3,300 students who receive food assistance at schools during the school year, Hemminger said.

“The thought is that this community has the resources, they have the ideas — they just need someone to convene them and put on that task,” Hemminger said.

Hemminger said she hopes to gain volunteers from Meals on Wheels to help transport the meals to 20 sites where people can gather to eat.

@mrjohnfoulkes

city@dailytarheel.com



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