Food & Friends

October 2021

FoodandFriendsFood & Friends is the Meals on Wheels and Senior Meals program serving Jackson and Josephine Counties. They are the Senior Nutrition Program of the Rogue Valley Council of Governments and have been serving the two county areas for 21 years.

We had the chance to ask Jon Pfefferle, Nutrition Program Operations Manager, a few questions about the program.

What services do you offer? And how many folks are currently in the program?

Our Senior Meals program is a donation based congregate meal program that offers lunch, socialization and nutrition education to seniors 60+ who attend one of our many meal site locations. However, due to the ongoing pandemic and the population we serve, our meal sites are offering meals to-go to our congregate participants until we are able to reopen our doors for in-person dining. Seniors are able to pick up meals to-go Monday through Friday at many of our locations.

Our Meals on Wheels program is also a donation based program that offers home delivered meals to seniors 60+ and eligible persons with disabilities who are unable to shop or prepare meals for themselves. Meals are delivered Monday through Friday in most areas by our amazing volunteers. Participants may receive up to 7 meals per week depending on qualifications. Our volunteers not only deliver nutritious meals, they also provide much needed socialization and an invaluable safety check to our communities’ most vulnerable population.

Food & Friends serves an average of 1,000 meals per day. Yes, that’s 1,000 meals a day! We have 250 seniors who pick up meals to-go from our meal site locations and the remaining individuals receive home delivered Meals on Wheels. Last fiscal year, we served over 237,000 meals, safely, to our seniors.

Did the Almeda fire change any of your operations or services?

Last summer, our program, staff, volunteers and the seniors we serve were greatly affected by the Almeda, Obenchain and Slater fires. Nothing was more heartbreaking and devastating to our communities and our seniors as the damage caused by the Almeda fire. As program operations were suspended for 24 hours due to the emerging situation, Food & Friends staff took to the phones, placing hundreds of outreach calls to our volunteers and seniors affected by the fires to make certain everyone was safe. Soon we would learn that most of the neighborhoods we served in Talent and Phoenix were lost to the fire. About 50% of the seniors we served in Talent and Phoenix remain displaced due to the Almeda fire. Much like the communities in Talent and Phoenix, our program remains resilient and strong. We continue to reach out to seniors in those affected areas, offering our services, and we are here for our seniors who were displaced when they are able to return home. One of our Talent seniors once told me after she returned from evacuations, “I’m glad Food & Friends came back to me.”

How many volunteers are involved?

We currently have 350 incredible volunteers who donate their time, compassionate hearts and friendly smiles to help support the program and the seniors they serve. There are currently 9 volunteers who deliver meals and friendship to seniors in the city of Talent.

Who qualifies for services and how do they sign up?

Seniors 60+ and their spouses are welcome to pick up meals to go at any of our meal site locations. Homebound seniors 60+ who need help with meal preparation due to illness, injury or disability may receive Meals on Wheels delivered to their home. To sign up for the Senior Meals program or to see if you are eligible to receive Meals on Wheels delivered to your home, call our office at 541-734-9505. You can also find more information about Food & Friends at RVCOG.ORG.

Adults with disabilities who meet eligibility criteria may receive Meals on Wheels and should contact their case manager to inquire about service.

Together we can support our communities and care for the seniors who need our helping hands. Together we are Food & Friends.