Senior citizens in Oakland, Rantoul and beyond are benefiting from a $60,000 grant by the Retirement Research Foundation, awarded to Eastern Illinois University's Peace Meal Senior Nutrition Program for the purchase of food delivery vehicles.
Two Hot Shot Delivery Vans, equipped with refrigeration and heated compartments with racks and drains, help deliver quality meals to approximately 400 individuals a day, said Barbra Wylie, Peace Meal director. The Oakland kitchen provides an average of 100 meals a day to residents of Oakland and Edgar County, while the Rantoul kitchen provides an average of 300 meals a day to Champaign, Ford and McLean county senior citizens.
The vans' in-cab monitors control the thermostats, thus ensuring the safe transport of food.
"Hot and cold foods maintain a safe temperature during delivery from a kitchen to remote senior nutrition sites," Wylie added. "This is of critical importance to continued service in rural areas of Peace Meal's region."
According to Wylie, the vans will help maintain Peace Meal's mission, which is "to provide quality meals for healthier lives. Peace Meal helps seniors improve their nutrition, sustain their independence and enhance the quality of their lives by providing meals, fellowship and connections to other needed services."
"This serves to improve overall health, and delay or prevent nursing home placement," she continued, adding that, "On behalf of Peace Meal, I express our gratitude to The Retirement Research Foundation for its generosity, and thank former Peace Meal Director Michael Strader for his work and dedication to obtain these vehicles."
All individuals aged 60 and older, and spouses regardless of age, are eligible for congregate meals, education, outreach and volunteer opportunities. Home-delivered meals are available to individuals who meet eligibility requirements of a physical, emotional and/or psychological need for meal assistance. Assessment, outreach and nutrition education are also provided for homebound clients.
The suggested donation for meals is $3. However, Peace Meal does not charge a fee for service and no one is turned away for an inability to pay. Targeted populations include the most at-risk senior citizens. However, Peace Meal seeks to serve all seniors who are in need of nutritional support with a focus on those who are low income, live alone, and who are a minority or female head of household.
Peace Meal has served senior citizens in East Central Illinois since 1974. Its service area includes 14 counties -- Champaign, Coles, Clark, Cumberland, Dewitt, Douglas, Edgar, Ford, Iroquois, Livingston, McLean, Moultrie, Piatt and Shelby. Central kitchens are located in Bloomington, Mattoon, Oakland, Rantoul and Toledo.
The Retirement Research Foundation, based in Chicago, is the nation's largest private foundation devoted solely to aging and retirement issues.