The Rutherford Report: Delivered Meals a Lifeline for Some

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The Rutherford Report
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“The best cure for weariness is the challenge of helping someone who is even more tired.”

—Gordon Hinckley
Delivered Meals a Lifeline for Some

Diane Reed had just become a fulltime resident of the San Bernardino Mountain community of Skyforest in 2004 when she read about Mountain Meals on Wheels in the local newspaper, The Mountain News.

“They said they needed drivers, and I had time and a car,” she said.

Volunteering had been a part of Diane’s life since she was a child. Her mother and father were constantly volunteering and regularly brought their six children along to help. Diane kept up the tradition, volunteering with Girl Scouts, soccer teams, home rooms, etc. as she and her husband, Dan, raised their two kids in Upland.

Diane contacted Shelley Long—the longtime president of Mountain Meals on Wheels—who gave her a run down of the program and connected her with an existing volunteer driver to show her the ropes.

Once a week she received a list of meal recipients and directions to their homes. The list changed regularly because clients dropped out of the program when they no longer needed the service, like the lady with the severely broken leg who only needed help until she was back on her feet. Others, including elderly and developmentally disabled individuals, stayed on the list.

“Every person is different, and every person has a different reason why they need the program,” Diane said.

The same can be said for how clients accepted their meals.

Diane never saw one recipient in her 80s who simply left a cooler by the front door to collect her meals. Another never failed to come out and thank her for the delivery, and another loved telling her stories about his younger days.

“Sometimes you are the only person they see that day,” she said.

Diane started her days as a driver picking up meals from Mountains Community Hospital in Lake Arrowhead. Transported in coolers, the meals include an entrée, vegetables, fruit, drink and dessert. Each costs Mountain Meals on Wheels $3.75.

The program charges recipients based on their income, so some pay less. But many pay full cost.

“That’s a great price,” Diane said. “You can’t get a dinner at a fast food place for $3.75.”

Besides meal payments, the program gets a great deal of financial support from mountain community organizations and businesses such as the Mountain Sunrise Rotary Club, Soroptimist International Rim of the World, Goodwin’s Market, Ted Roy Charity Foundation and others.

There are slots for up to 40 clients, but Diane—who became much more involved in running the program after several years as a driver—said they always leave a few spots open for emergency situations, such as patients recovering from open heart surgery at home.

“I don’t want to get up to 40 and have to turn people like that away,” she said.

Today, there are 25 dedicated volunteer drivers working the program’s three routes, which stretch from Cedarpines Park to Green Valley Lake. Many are retired seniors, but there are some younger ones, too, including a college student studying to be a social worker and a United Airlines flight attendant who helped secure a grant for the program from the airline.

Mountain Meals on Wheels also has seven committed volunteer directors who shepherd the program. Some occasionally serve as drivers.

Recipients learn about the program through hospital social workers, the local newspaper, and word of mouth. There’s also a Website developed by Diane’s husband that’s helped spread the word...sometimes a little too far.

One meal request came from a Vermont resident.

“She said, ‘But you are called Mountain Meals on Wheels,’” Diane said. “I told her we have mountains out here in California, too. She wanted us to freeze the meals and send them to her by mail.”

Diane politely declined.

You can learn more about Mountain Meals on Wheels by visiting
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