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Ensuring homebound persons receive nutritious meals. 

Calvert Meals on Wheels

Calvert Meals on Wheels (CMOW) is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization dedicated to providing one daily home-delivered meal with a smile five days a week. Giant Food has supported this organization through its Community Bag Program.

Tell us about Calvert Meals on Wheels.

It’s a meal and a smile! CMOW,  founded in 1982, is a volunteer organization whose mission is to provide meals to homebound seniors. They’re ready-made meals that we provide five days a week. But these are more than just meals. What we do is provide a wellness check with human interaction. It’s a service for the clients.

Our independent organization was incorporated to provide daily meal service to homebound senior citizens of Calvert County, MD.

What services do you provide to the community?

CMOW provides ready-to-eat meals five days a week. We serve these meals on a TV dinner tray, with an entree and two vegetables. You also get a bag with milk, juice, and bread, and it could have a salad, applesauce, and fruit.

We also provide monitoring and wellness services for our clients. If we see a situation that needs intervention, we can alert the proper authorities. We’re here for whatever assistance we can provide.

Our visits are often a great way to have human contact and ensure clients get the necessary nourishment. One of my clients told me her health had improved since she started having the meals delivered. These are nutritionally based healthy meals. Because nutrition plays a significant role, our meals are low-carb, low-sugar, and low-salt. And we also try to accommodate any allergies clients may have.

One of my clients told me her health had improved since she started having the meals delivered.

CMOW provides wellness checks, friendship, conversation, and delicious meals with a smile five days a week.

What sets you apart from other organizations in your community?

We are a 97% volunteer organization. Our volunteers are dedicated to improving the lives of seniors and are second to none. For example, we provide extra treats to our seniors for a personal touch during holidays and other occasions.  We also send cards for life events and illnesses to our clients.

Tell us a story that illustrates the good work of your organization.

We can save people’s lives. On several occasions, our volunteers have visited people’s homes and found them in various states of distress. Our team has been able to stay there and call the authorities to get them the medical assistance they need. We ask our staff not to provide medical aid themselves because they may do more harm than good.

We can save people’s lives. On several occasions, our volunteers have visited people’s homes and found them in various states of distress.

Some of our clients are entirely homebound due to physical difficulties. They’re unable to get up, and they don’t have caregivers. Many live alone. We go into bedbound clients’ homes and put the food in the refrigerator or table.

When COVID shut everything down, CMOW continued delivering meals. We had to modify our schedule from providing one meal five days a week to delivering five meals one day a week. We had to ensure everything was microwavable and could stay fresh for those five days. As I indicated earlier, our mission is to provide a meal, a smile, and a wellness check. We usually come five days a week and have that much-needed contact and connection with people. But during COVID, the weekly delivery made this hard to accomplish. So, I initiated a program to call clients for a daily check.  Route coordinators would send a calendar and ask our volunteers to contact the clients every day.  This way, we could connect daily with our clients.

What is your most outstanding achievement or contribution to the community?

CMOW is proud to reduce food insecurity in our community. For some of our clients, our deliveries are the best meal of the day. We are happy knowing our clients get a nutritious meal with milk and fruit. And in some cases, depending on how often or how much you eat, the food is enough for two meals.

Our team also does unique things for our clients. For example, we partner with a homemaker group to make treats for clients; volunteers bring flowers, candy, and other goodies to clients throughout the year. Groups such as local quilters made placemats for the clients, and the Girl and Boy Scouts made cards for the clients.

One volunteer will bring her granddaughter for deliveries, and the granddaughter will sing for the clients. The volunteers do this out of love, which warms my heart! CMOW have the most outstanding volunteers; they always are willing to go that “extra mile” for our clients.

What do you want people to know about Calvert Meals on Wheels?

CMOW is one of many groups that address food insecurity in our community. Our organization works with other nonprofits and receives monetary and in-kind donations for our operations. The United Way, Combined Federal Campaign, and the Maryland Charity Campaign contribute to CMOW. We receive local, state, and federal funding through the Calvert County Office on Aging. Our clients’ donations comprise a third of our budget, and we have private contributions as well.

CMOW is one of many groups that address food insecurity in our community.

Our business partners also provide offerings for us to give to clients. One year the Dunkirk Giant donated pantry boxes and pies to our clients. The clients were very pleased. We have individuals and businesses who donate funds to us—seeing all these groups come together for a good cause and support the community is excellent. We could not do it by ourselves. Together we have improved the quality of life for our clients.

How do you use the funds raised from the Giant Food Community Bag Program?

We will use this money to buy daily and emergency meals. Our service has two types of meals. We deliver ready-to-eat meals five days a week. We also have emergency meals where our clients receive a box of shelf-stable meals three times a year. These meals can replace the daily meals we cannot deliver because of weather, holidays, or unforeseen circumstances.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

The organization does a lot, not just on the food side but on the human-interest side. The volunteers genuinely care. During December, I deliver meals to the clients as Mrs. Claus. I also meet and greet the volunteers as Mrs. Claus and thank them for their dedication. CMOW goes out of its way to ensure the clients are treated well with as much of a holistic approach as possible. It’s wonderful.

We have a volunteer who’s a hundred years old. Her husband drives, and she’s there to give out meals. I get to see her every year at Christmas time. I’ll thank her and tell her, “Wow, you are such an inspiration!” We also have a volunteer who has been with the group since we started in 1982. Some volunteers bring their pets along for the ride, and we have volunteer dogs. The clients really enjoy these interactions. It’s fantastic and makes us feel like we’re doing something right. Because of great support, CMOW can provide meals for years. I enjoy working with the organization. I have met many people who have touched my life and the lives of others in a positive way. Thank you, Giant Food, for making this possible through your Community Bag Program!

Shirl Hendley is the President of Calvert Meals on Wheels.

Published August 14, 2023.