Over 100 volunteers deliver meals each week to seniors and the disabled in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. Hy-Vee supports this nonprofit organization through the Red “My Heart” Reusable Bag Program.
Tell us about Meals on Wheels of Lee’s Summit Meals.
We deliver hot, nutritious meals to the elderly and disabled citizens of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, enabling them to enjoy a more independent lifestyle. Meals on Wheels of Lee’s Summit was created to help individuals with food insecurity access hot, nutritious, delicious meals that can help maintain a healthy diet.
Meals on Wheels of Lee’s Summit started with fifteen clients and has grown to over 500,000 meals served since its inception.
The program was started in 1974 by two local ladies who saw local people, such as friends, parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents, struggling to eat well. They were people who could not get out to purchase food, or once they got the food, they were not able to prepare their meals regularly. Meals on Wheels of Lee’s Summit started with fifteen clients and has grown to over 500,000 meals served since its inception. We currently serve around 125 meals per day.
What services do you provide to the community?
We provide a full, six-part hot meal at noontime delivered to our client’s homes each weekday. Approximately 120 volunteers deliver about 600 meals a week. They are low-sodium, heart-healthy meals prepared by our partner of nearly 50 years, the Lee’s Summit Medical Center. Since our food comes from a hospital, we can customize specific dietary needs or restrictions, such as food allergies or diabetes. We can handle just about any diet the client is on.
Our program is also designed to serve as a daily well-check. Many of our clients struggle to stay independent and in their homes, which is where they want to be. These meal deliveries provide somebody to check in on our clients every day. If they do not answer their door or their phone, we find out why. Our volunteer drivers are often the only people that clients may talk to in a single day.
Another essential thing that we provide is financial support for some of our clients who struggle to pay for their meals. Approximately 20% of our clients benefit through our subsidy program.
What sets you apart from other nonprofits in your community?
One of the unique differences is that we can offer dietary-specific meals to all of our clients.
The wellness checks that we provide also make a huge difference. We don’t leave the food if a client doesn’t answer the door; we find out why by contacting the client’s emergency contact person. The local Lee’s Summit Police Department and the Fire Department partner with us very closely to help facilitate those wellness checks for our clients if needed. We also have a police officer who delivers meals weekly. We’re so appreciative of this local partnership.
Tell us a story that illustrates the good work of your organization.
Last fall, we had to make several calls to the police department for well-checks on clients that didn’t answer their doors. We will stay until the situation is resolved.
Our clients can stay at home as long as possible because of the fully prepared meals we deliver, the interaction and the well-checks provided.
Often when clients don’t answer their doors, it results in the need for transportation to the hospital. Recently, one of our clients fell in his bathtub and could not answer the door when his meal delivery came. If we hadn’t gone by there with his food and pursued finding out why he didn’t come to the door, who knows how long he would’ve laid there until a family member or friend found him? Also, many of our clients don’t have any family locally; they are genuinely alone besides our daily check-ins.
Our clients can stay at home as long as possible because of the fully prepared meals we deliver, the interaction and the well-checks provided. It really is a valuable program that our clients’ family members are very grateful to have.
What is your most outstanding achievement or contribution to the community?
For 47 years, the organization was volunteer-run. There were never any paid employees. Two years ago, we hired a part-time Operations Coordinator who organizes meal deliveries, manages 120 volunteers, handles communications and maintains our meal delivery software.
A unique advantage of our organization is the large number of volunteers that help run the program. We appreciate our volunteers, who are drivers and kitchen workers, board members, etc.
What do you want people to know about Lee’s Summit Meals on Wheels?
We want people to know that we are here. Even though we have been around since 1974, there are still people who have never heard of us. Marketing is so important to us. Meals on Wheels of Lee’s Summit is here for our community to help in any way we can.
We’re also always in need of volunteer drivers; they are vital in getting the food to our clients.
How are you using the funds you’ve received from the Hy-Vee “My Heart” Reusable Bag Program?
The funds from the Hy-Vee Reusable Bag Program help support our subsidy meal program, which is growing at a rapid rate. We pay approximately 20% of our client’s meals. Our subsidy expense is currently around $20,000 annually, and that need is constantly growing. We are thankful for donations such as the Hy-Vee Reusable Bag Program. It’s a great program, and we so appreciate being involved.
Is there anything you would like to add?
We appreciate the passion the people of Lee’s Summit have for Meals on Wheels of Lee’s Summit. It’s overwhelming when you see people reach in their pockets and give; every little bit helps. It’s also heartwarming to see people make time in their schedules to give back and volunteer. This is exactly why we’re able to look forward to our 50th anniversary.
If anyone has any questions or is interested in Meals on Wheels of Lee’s Summit in any way, please visit our website at mealsonwheelsls.org or give us a call at 816-745-4400.
Susie Newsam is Director of Meals on Wheels of Lee’s Summit.
Published January 17, 2023.