Service Learning: Haywood County Meals on Wheels

Haywood County Meals on Wheels has been making its mark on Haywood County, serving their fellow citizens for 38 years. 
According to Jeanne Naber, the director of Haywood County Meals on Wheels, the organization started in the year 1975. Since its beginning, the program has expanded continuously.
“What started as six meals delivered then, we now delivers 200 plus meals daily. Currently, the program serves 24 routes within Haywood County with approximately 225 volunteers on board.”
Naber explained that they receive 225 volunteers total that come in throughout the year.
According to Naber, their program provides the Haywood community with “hot, nutritious lunch-time meals that provide three of their daily nutrition needs,” as well as a good service for the seniors in the community. She described Haywood County Meals on Wheels as being “cost-effective” and that their program gives “peace of mind,” with the knowledge that they will “get one nutritious meal a day.” They also help to keep community members in their homes, so they are not put in rest homes.
Along with providing a service to citizens, Haywood County Meals on Wheels also benefits its volunteers. Naber expressed that the volunteers love meeting and helping out the recipients of the meals. The recipients, in turn, love the volunteers and form friendships with them.
“It makes people feel good to volunteer in their community,” Naber said.
The types of meals that Haywood County Meals on Wheels serves their recipients covers “three of their daily nutrition needs.” Examples of the meals they serve include turkey and gravy, spaghetti and meat, a starch serving, a serving of veggies, half a pint of 2 percent milk and a bread roll. 
Haywood County Meals on Wheels is funded through several ways, Naber explained. According to Naber, the program receives funds from the United Way, Home and Community Care Block Grant (HCCBG), the Haywood County Government, local churches and organizations, and private donors.
“We rely heavily on donations,” Naber said. 
The delivery process for the meals is one that begins the day before and extends into 10 a.m. the morning of their delivery. According to Naber, they prepare the meals the day before. The next morning, they begin by packing up the meals at 6:30 a.m. Afterwards, they drop off the meals at convenient stores, fire departments, churches, etc.
There, the volunteers are waiting to pick up the meals and deliver them to the community members. The program delivers all over Haywood County and drives routes that include Saunooke, Cruso, Canton, Fines Creek and Maggie Valley.
“We deliver throughout Haywood County no matter where someone lives,” Naber said.
According to Naber, there are 120 volunteers that help her every week. Each volunteer puts in an hour and a half of service. Someone can become a volunteer by getting in touch with Naber. She said that they can call her and set up a time where they talk and tell her where they live. Each applicant is screened in the process. When they become a volunteer, they are given a route based on where they live in order to make it easier for them when it comes to things like gas, demographics, etc.
According to Naber, anyone with a car who can drive and who has time qualifies as a volunteer. Naber did emphasize that each volunteer is screened and has to fill out an application. 
After a person becomes a volunteer, they engage in the training process. According to Naber, they usually have that person train with a member of the staff or with one of the experienced volunteers. The training process takes about one trip with the trainer, then by the next week the volunteer is used to the process. Naber stated that they train their volunteers in the basics, which include giving them a pamphlet and directions to where the recipients of the meals live. They also give the volunteers safety and emergency instructions.
“If anyone is interested in volunteering for Haywood County Meals on Wheels, please feel free to give me a call,” Naber said.
Naber can be reached through her office phone number 828-356-2442 or through her e-mail