Meals on Wheels: Program offers a lifeline to homebound senior citizens

Frances Johnson, 69, uses her walker as she works her way to her Meals on Wheels meal she received Thursday morning at her home at a motel in Front Royal. Johnson receives a hot meal Tuesday through Friday and a frozen meal to use Monday that is prepared by Front Royal's Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging. Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL – Meals on Wheels deliveries of hot meals by a friendly volunteer are treasured by one local senior.

Frances Johnson, 69, of Front Royal, receives Meals on Wheels deliveries Tuesdays through Fridays from the Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging.

Johnson said she receives five nutritious meals each week. They consist of fresh, hot meat, vegetables, milk and sometimes a dessert.  One meal delivered on Friday was a microwavable frozen meal that could be eaten before the next visit on Tuesday.

“It’s really good food,” she said.

Johnson has been getting the meal deliveries for about a month now to her room at a Front Royal motel.  The Meals on Wheels food is important to her, she said, because she only has a refrigerator and microwave in her room. She added that due to some health issues, she has to eat three healthy meals each day.

Debbie Blankenship, of Front Royal, a substitute bus driver for the Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging's Wheels on Meals program, delivers a hot meal to one of their clients in Warren County recently. Rich Cooley/Daily

Johnson agreed to speak about the Meals on Wheels program because she wants the public to be aware of its impact on her life as well as on other homebound residents.

“It helps me out when I’m trying to keep a balanced diet because I have diabetes and high blood pressure,” she said.

Johnson has been retired since she was 63.  She has Medicare and receives Social Security benefits each month, but she said that only covers her rent and a few groceries and medications. Her son, who lives in Fairfax, brings her a fresh supply of groceries on a regular basis, but she said that if funding for Meals on Wheels is cut in President Donald Trump’s proposed federal budget and she could not receive the hot meals, “it would make it a lot harder on me.”

She added that she couldn’t ask her son to pay for anymore of her needs because he already does so much for her.

“I couldn’t make it” without the program, she said.

Johnson added that the volunteers who make the home deliveries try to make the lives of the people receiving the meals a little brighter, and she even received a Valentine’s Day card from one volunteer.

“They’re all nice,” she said.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com