Meals on Wheels partnership provides food for locals

By Ryan Connelly 

Students, Gourmet Dining staff members and Meals on Wheels employees gather in Daly Dining Hall to promote the program.

Over 1,600 meals a week were produced for those in need by Gourmet Dining and Rider students who began teaming up with Meals on Wheels of Mercer County Oct. 16. 

Students worked in Daly Dining Hall preparing food with the chefs and workers from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Monday through Friday. Gourmet Dining cooked the food, then the volunteer students packaged the meals. After the students were done preparing the food, Meals on Wheels picked up the meals from Rider and delivered them to houses in the area. 

“We follow the Meals on Wheels guidelines,” said Michael Reca, vice president for facilities and university operations. “They give us the food restrictions for the people and menu types. The nutritionist here at Rider makes sure everybody is getting a balanced meal.”

This food was delivered to people who are disabled, who can’t leave their homes and the elderly. Rider was pushing out over 300 meals a day for those in need and, on Fridays, over 400 meals were made to support people over the weekend. 

Everyone who was part of the program acts as a volunteer, including the delivery drivers for Meals on Wheels. This program also offered an opportunity for community service for students. 

“From 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. we need five people for that entire time span,” said Reca. “It functions very well with five volunteers. The chef brings the food over, they portion it, then they hand it to a volunteer who puts it in the sealer.” 

Austin Scher, a freshman criminal justice major was one of the studens who volunteered his time. 

“[This program] provides those in need with the opportunity to the means of food,” said Scher. “This opportunity and events like these are wonderful ways to give back to the community.” 

President Gregory Dell’Omo was contacted personally by Meals on Wheels for the program. When they in reached out, he agreed immediately. 

“[Dell’Omo] is a big factor in the community. He likes these things where we can be a part of the community, where we can help,” said Reca. “He was approached and didn’t even hesitate. He said, ‘Let’s go, we’re going to make this happen.” 

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