Meals on Wheels

Area seniors in need receive homestyle meals

On nearly any weekday, the Bagdad Activity Center in Leander is filled with the smell of lunch cooking and the sound of dominoes clicking and cards shuffling. The building is home to the regional Meals on Wheels program that delivers food to about 75 senior citizens in the Cedar Park, Leander and Liberty Hill area, as well as several dozen more seniors served on-site.

Meals on Wheels in Leander is one of six programs of its kind operating under Williamson-Burnet County Opportunities, a nonprofit organization that provides food, preschool education, emergency assistance and affordable housing to low-income members of the community. In 2012, Meals on Wheels served nearly 160,000 meals to seniors, many of whom are unable to provide themselves proper nutrition because of illness, age or disability.

"A lot of times our volunteers are the only people the client sees all week, so that's important to get them connected with the outside," Meals on Wheels Director Paula Goodson said. "It gets people less depressed, and it helps people stay at home—as opposed to a nursing home or assisted living—because they have good meals, somebody watching over them and somebody to talk to."

As recently as a April, the program in Leander was able to serve 80 or 90 homebound residents, Goodson said. Now about 20 seniors in Leander—and about 60 total in both Williamson and Burnet counties—are waiting to be added to a meal delivery route.

"A couple of years ago we got about $80,000 from the federal government stimulus, and that money allowed us to make ends meet and to put people on the list. But the money never came back," Goodson said. "As people go off the list, we don't put anyone else on because we are just trying to make ends meet for the people we already serve."

Among the favorite dishes made by cook Deby Davis are meatloaf, King Ranch Chicken and taco salad.

"I'm impressed with all of the food. They have a very good cook there, and I appreciate everything I get," said Meals on Wheels client Katherine Wilm. "The volunteers are so sweet to me, and they really care."

What's on the menu?

Meals on Wheels creates monthly menus that must meet nutritional standards. Entrees come with milk and fruit. Menu items include grilled pork, chicken salad, chuck roast, chicken parmesan and oven-fried fish.

WBC Opportunities

The Meals on Wheels program is one of several operating under Williamson-Burnet County Opportunities. During the school year, students in Head Start, a preschool program for low-income families, are also served by the Meals on Wheels kitchen. WBC Opportunities operates emergency assistance and affordable housing programs as well.

Meals on Wheels at the Bagdad Activity Center, 351 N. Bagdad Road, Leander, 512-259-0288, www.wbco.net