Homebound Meals Inc., the not-for-profit organization that has been delivering nutritious meals to Fort Wayne area shut-ins since 1971, has not been slowed down during the coronavirus pandemic. The only differences are that volunteer drivers wear masks and gloves and no longer hand meals directly to the clients. Instead, they leave them in coolers on the front porch or door step.
The meals are prepared at the Rehabilitation Hospital at Lutheran, St. Joseph Hospital and Parkview Health where volunteer drivers pick them up. Food is distributed each day to clients, who pay a fee that covers just the cost of the meals. Those who are financially challenged receive their meals at a subsidized price. More than 20 routes have been established throughout the area with each driver making between eight and 15 stops.
Over the years, the program has enlisted a dedicated group of drivers who are the backbone of the program. A number of them have been volunteering their time and the use of their car between 10 and 20 years and a few have even been delivering meals since the inception of the program. Volunteers are generally recruited from churches and service organizations and are trained by The Red Cross.
Homebound started March 1, 1971, with just four meals being prepared by Lutheran Hospital. Another route was started a month later at St. Anne’s Nursing Home. The program grew quickly and by August three more routes were added by Lutheran Hospital, two by St. Anne’s, and one by Turtle Creek South. In November 1971, Parkview and St. Joseph hospitals joined the program.
Homebound Meals is a member of the national Meals on Wheels Association of America.