As costs for Lawrence Meals on Wheels increase, need remains strong

The need for Lawrence Meals on Wheels hasn’t changed in the past year, but its costs have risen $40,000.

Kim Culliss, executive director, said the nonprofit provides meals to 115 disabled or elderly residents five days a week with the help of 100 volunteers. Of those residents, only four are able to pay the full price for a meal — $4.50. The rest need some level of financial assistance, and there are many who can’t pay anything.

“We don’t turn anybody away,” Culliss said.

Meals on Wheels, or MOW, has an annual budget of $230,000, and it gets money through state and federal grants, plus donations. A big chunk of those donations come through its annual fundraiser, which is Thursday at Maceli’s in downtown Lawrence.

Last year’s event raised $20,000, and Culliss is hoping to top that amount.

The event also will be a celebration of its new location and caterer, which is why its expenses have increased.

In March, the nonprofit’s office moved to 2121 Kasold Drive, next to Cycle Works, and its rent went up $11,000 annually. Before, its office was located at 1414 W. Sixth St., and it was facing an increase in rent.

At the end of May, it ended its contract with Lawrence Memorial Hospital, which had provided meals for 35 years. Culliss said they had to look at other options because of a kitchen renovation project at LMH. MOW was able to find a new caterer — Sixth Street Hy-Vee Store — that could provide special dietary meals, but it raised its food costs $30,000.

But, clients say its well worth it.

“I love it,” said Doris Kaiser, 84, who received a gluten-free meal on Tuesday. “It’s a lot better.”

Herman Morgan, 91, also gave the new caterer a good review. He said he enjoys getting a balanced meal and visiting with the volunteers who deliver them.

Volunteers say the new location has better parking and an easier-to-manage delivery system. Instead of juggling trays of food and separate coolers for drinks, everything is in one big red cooler. They also like the fact that the staff is on site and available to answer concerns or questions.

“It’s a lot easier with the bags,” said Jacob McCleary who has been volunteering for one year. “It's nicer to see the staff and they have a candy dish.”

Volunteer Belinda Schuman organizes delivery bags for Meals on Wheels drivers on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2011, at the service's new office, 2121 Kasold Drive.

Volunteer Belinda Schuman organizes delivery bags for Meals on Wheels drivers on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2011, at the service's new office, 2121 Kasold Drive. by Nick Krug

Meals On Wheels volunteer Jacob McCleary sets a lunch down on the kitchen table for recipient Mary Canfield during a delivery on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2011, in her home at Wyndham Place, 2551 Crossgate Drive.

Meals On Wheels volunteer Jacob McCleary sets a lunch down on the kitchen table for recipient Mary Canfield during a delivery on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2011, in her home at Wyndham Place, 2551 Crossgate Drive. by Nick Krug


MEALS ON WHEELS BENEFIT

The “2011 Premiere” Charity Auction to benefit Lawrence Meals on Wheels will be at 6 p.m. Thursday at Maceli’s, 1031 N.H.

The event will feature an all-you-can-eat appetizer buffet, wine, and silent and live auctions. There are more than 200 items up for bid. The honorary event chairs will be Kansas University Athletic Director Sheahon Zenger and his wife, Pam.

The cost is $40, and tickets can be purchased at the door.

For more information, call Meals on Wheels at 830-8844.

Tagged: Lawrence Meals on Wheels

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