Northeast: Meals on Wheels Provides More Than Food


Volunteers help to pack and organize meals before they are sent out to clients throughout Philadelphia.

The Meals on Wheels program at the Klein JCC in Northeast Philadelphia delivers nearly 50,000 meals a year, but expects that number to grow.

“In a lot of cases it starts out where they need meals, and then we find they don’t have bathroom equipment, or they don’t have a doorbell that works or they don’t have something else in their home that they may need,” explains Nina Cohen, director of Emergency Food & Home Delivered Meals at the Klein JCC.

As a result, Cohen says, these drivers often end up doing more than just delivering meals.

Jay Lipschutz has been a volunteer driver at the JCC for the past four years.

“About a year ago I made an emergency delivery to somebody not on my route and when I walked in the house it was a disaster: there was holes in the ceiling, slippery floors, it looked like the place was falling apart,” explains Lipschutz.

Volunteer driver Jay Lipschutz talks with client Mary Gasparro.

In cases such as this, the Klein JCC has a social worker who helps to further the organization’s outreach.

Dan Goldberg, a volunteer driver, was also able to provide extra assistance to a senior along his route.

“I went to my last client and he came out walking with a cane and said ‘can you take me to the emergency room at the hospital?’” said Goldberg. “So I said ‘Yeah sure,’ and I took him to the hospital.”

According to the 2000 Census, senior citizens make up 13 percent of Philadelphia’s residents, but with the aging baby boomer generation, the Census Bureau expects to see that number increase dramatically throughout the country.

“We have about 10 to 15 drivers. Some of them are not regular drivers, they are back-ups.  We always need people we can call when we are in a pinch,” explains Cohen. “That’s really what we need right now, more drivers.”

Volunteer driver Jay Lipschutz fills his car with the day's deliveries.

The Klein JCC plans to continue its outreach into communities throughout the city to help as many struggling senior citizens as possible.