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‘Meet and Potatoes’ with Meals on Wheels 11 a.m. to Noon

October 1, 2005

The wheels of a great tradition roll into a Tucker Road driveway at 11:12 a.m. Wednesday.

Clayton and Ida Evens brought a meal to their friend Ruby in her immaculate home.

The Evens are volunteer drivers for Meals On Wheels, an outreach of the Hood River Valley Adult Center. In the past, Ruby was Ida’s bowling team partner – and herself a Meals on Wheels volunteer.

Ruby knows the value of the daily contact that comes with the hot meals.

“It really makes my day,” she said.

It’s a meet-and-potatoes thing — with sides of corn, fruit, and, this day, ice cream cake.

“We try to give them a treat every day,” said Beth Peters, who oversees the meal preparation in her role as adult center food service manager. Her grandmother, Mary Moore, cooked for more than 30 years at Pine Grove Grange. Moore’s photo hangs on Peters’ office wall.

“What I cook is pretty much what I learned from my grandmother,” Peters said.

“We go for taste, color and smell, preparing the food the way the folks like it, and making sure they get at least one third of their daily intake of the five major food groups,” said Peters, who’s been in her job for two years. Helping her are her niece, Julie Dillingham, and volunteer Barb Weaver.

Meals on Wheels is about nutrition, but it is more than that. The volunteers are a social life line for many clients, who for health or mobility reasons are delivered meals on a daily or less-frequent basis, some long-term and some on a shorter-term basis. The volunteers know they have a larger role than waiter-on-wheels.

“We always talk long enough to see how they’re getting along,” said Clayton, who has found clients on the floor and in need of help three times in their five years of delivering meals.

Ida notes that “Over time, you find you get as much out of it as the folks you’re calling on.”

For their route, the Evens load up two insulated caddies and drive south out Tucker Road on the “Odell” route. Other volunteers will take the Westside and Eastside routes, for a total of 35-40 meals each day. Volunteers pay for their own gas.

It takes the Evens exactly one hour to complete their route. On Fridays volunteers also deliver frozen meals that seniors can heat up over the weekend. For each meal, clients pay $3.

The Evens enjoy Sugar and Angel along the way – the names of two dogs that know the sound of their car and eagerly greet Clayton and Ida as they arrive.

“Deliver the food, then pet Angel,” Ida jokes as Clayton opens the gate to an Odell home and vigorously pets the Pekingese.

The dogs’ owner, Roxann Sponnable, calls the Evens “the most cheerful people.

“It makes the day go so fast with them coming in the middle of the day.”

The Evens visit awhile with the Sponnables, as this is the next-to-last stop. This is further contact with people who have themselves carried on the senior meals tradition:

Harry Sponnable recalls that it was in 1996, while a member of the Senior Advisory Council, he arranged with Dairy Queen to make a weekly donation of ice cream cake – the dessert for the day.

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Around the Clock is a weekly Saturday feature, chronicling events one hour at a time around Hood River County. Next week: Noon at Rotary Club.

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