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5 million meals later, Tabitha’s Meals on Wheels still feeding, connecting with seniors

Published: Dec. 13, 2021 at 4:20 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 13, 2021 at 4:48 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - A milestone marked for Tabitha Health’s Meals on Wheels program; Monday they distributed their 5-millionth meal. Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird handed out the milestone meal to a couple in the Randolph neighborhood. Gaylor Baird said this is a culmination of community involvement.

“I couldn’t deliver the 5-millionth meal if there hadn’t have been hundreds, if not thousands of volunteers, who came before building up to this moment,” said Gaylor Baird.

Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird delivers the 5 millionth meal for a Meals on Wheels recipient
Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird delivers the 5 millionth meal for a Meals on Wheels recipient(Madison Pitsch)

Tabitha’s Meals on Wheels program delivers 500 meals daily, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. Volunteers usually drive distribution.

“Every day we have about 52 volunteers, a lot of times they bring a spouse or partner as well,” said Toni Rupe, a Grant Coordinator at Tabitha. “Every year we have about 800-plus volunteers that keep this program running.”

Tabitha said the need for a hot, noon meal has grown 62% in the last decade, and Tabitha hasn’t turned anyone away. Nearly 81% of the people receiving meals cannot afford the full cost of $6.25 per meal.

Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird packs a meal for a Meals on Wheels recipient
Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird packs a meal for a Meals on Wheels recipient(Madison Pitsch)

“We are able to provide that to individuals regardless of their ability to pay,” said Rupe.

Gaylor Baird calls it a testament to the community. Nearly 90% of recipients say these meals allow them to remain independent and in their homes.

“It’s so powerful to know that friends and neighbors are helping people stay at home, helping seniors live independent lives,” said Gaylor Baird. “That’s just a really powerful testament to the community-mindedness of people who call Lincoln, Nebraska home.”

More than food, this daily meal delivery often offers connection to people who may not see many people during a day. Nearly 82% of meal recipients say the person delivering their meals is the only person they see in a day.

“It’s important when we open that door and see a a friendly face. Oftentimes, as important as the meal is, a little conversation and connection is what’s really the most valuable gift that Meals on Wheels volunteers provide,” said Gaylor Baird.

If you are interested in learning more about Tabitha’s Meals on Wheels program, follow the link for more.

Meals on Wheels delivers 5 millionth meal in Lincoln. Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird delivered the...
Meals on Wheels delivers 5 millionth meal in Lincoln. Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird delivered the meal to a couple in the Randolph neighborhood.(Madison Pitsch)

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