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Volunteers deliver nutrition to elderly, one house at a time

Woman hands woman meal

Airman 1st Class Erika Peterson, 375th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels distribution, delivers a set of meals as a part of the Meals on Wheels program July 22, 2019, in Belleville, Ill. The meals are delivered by volunteers to the homes of each designated family each Monday, and covers five days-worth of meals. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Greg Erwin)

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Like clockwork every Monday, volunteers with the Air Force Sergeants Association deliver meals to elderly residents as a way to give back to the local community.

“Most people have an elderly person in their life, and you don’t want to see that person having a tough time,” said Staff Sgt. Brian Morelock, 375th Contracting Squadron.

Many times, the elderly are not able to drive or just cannot physically get out to grocery shop, so “this is a way that we can make sure that they don’t go hungry,” he added.

The concept for “Meals on Wheels” dates to World War II to help those who were displaced in the bombings in England. Since that time, the program has been adopted in multiple countries, including the United States.

The program has been here locally for over 40 years, is currently operated by Senior Services Plus Inc., and is staged out of the St. George Episcopal Church and St. Mark Lutheran Church in Belleville, Illinois.

Airman 1st Class Erika Peterson, 375th Logistics Readiness Squadron, said, “This is the best way that I can get out and help. I can see the impact we have on people. You always hear about how we help, but seeing it in action makes it real for me.”

Those who have signed up to help are given a route sheet at the beginning of the day that has the locations for delivery, phone numbers to contact those getting the meals, and a number of how many meals to deliver, explained Frances Rainey, Meals on Wheels program site supervisor. Each household that is on the delivery route gets five days-worth of meals consisting of frozen entrées, milk, fruit cups and bread.

“The most rewarding thing to me is when I’m able to give someone their meals and see the smile on their face,” said Peterson. “When I see a smile or know that I just made someone’s day by a simple gesture, that’s the best thing for me.”