Working the food line for Meals on Wheels and the Mid-Columbia Senior Center are, left to right, Joy Keller, Marjorie Gaige, Marjorie Harris and Pam Farley. Photo courtesy Lauren Mulligan
As of Friday, September 4, 2015
Good food can be just as important as medicine to someone recovering from a hospital stay or an operation.
For people who are on their own at home after being in the hospital, food preparation can add stress their recovery.
That's why Susan Lowe and Ashley Lauterbach are working with Pacific Source Community Solutions of the Columbia Gorge to expand the Meals on Wheels program in The Dalles to bring good nutrition where it is most needed.
Lowe, a local Meals on Wheels board member, saw an opportunity for a program that was already part of the community to do more. She worked with Pacific Source to secure a grant that would open up the meal delivery service to any Oregon Health Plan member who recently discharged from the hospital and would be recovering at home.
“Nutrition is a building block of healthy recovery,” Lowe explained.
Meals on Wheels has only been available to seniors over the age of 60, but this grant was specifically designed so that OHP members of any age, including children, would be able to receive healthy meals during their recuperation.
The funding pays for the food and for Lauterbach's time. A certified community health worker, Lauterbach coordinates volunteers for the program. She receives the referrals from Pacific Source and makes sure that OHP members are assigned to a route and a driver. Sometimes she is even the one delivering the meals.
During the past year more than 1,600 meals have been served through the program. The benefits last long after the meal delivery stops, Lauterbach added.
“We can educate people on how to put together a balanced meal," she says. "We can even tailor the meal that is delivered so that it can aid in their recovery — like a low-sugar meal for a diabetic, or a low-cholesterol meal for someone with a heart condition.”
One man was recovering from surgery after a heart attack and also was struggling to manage his diabetes. He was dehydrated and had been drinking large amounts of Gatorade.
When Lauterbach visited his home to deliver dinner, she was able to talk with him about ways to stay hydrated that didn’t raise his blood sugar.
“Recovering from surgery is already difficult on the body, but not having access to healthy food is stressful,” Lauterbach said.
“This is one less thing for them to worry about so they can focus on getting better.”