Kosher Meals on Wheels cel­e­brates 50th an­niver­sary

The Canadian Jewish News (Toronto) - - News - JODIE SHUPAC jshu­

Rickey Ran­dal has been a grateful re­cip­i­ent of Kosher Meals on Wheels for the past three years.

The 83-year-old uses a walker and is no longer able to cook for her­self, so the seven meals de­liv­ered to her home near Finch Av­enue and Don Mills Road each week – she pops them in the freezer and de­frosts them as needed – are tremen­dously help­ful.

“There’s a va­ri­ety of food… Chicken… roast beef, baked salmon… veg­eta­bles, rice and beau­ti­ful rice pud­ding… It’s beau­ti­ful,” she said.

“It feeds me din­ner ev­ery night. What can you want bet­ter than that?”

Kosher Meals on Wheels, which is cel­e­brat­ing its 50th an­niver­sary this year, is a pro­gram of Cir­cle of Care, the not-for­profit provider of in-home health and sup­port ser­vices that’s now part of Si­nai Health Sys­tem.

Clients, in­clud­ing peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties and se­niors with health or mo­bil­ity is­sues that make it dif­fi­cult to shop or cook, re­ceive one strictly kosher meal per day.

The pro­gram is an off­shoot of the generic Meals on Wheels de­liv­ery ser­vice, which started in the United King­dom in 1943 and was first adopted in Canada in 1963.

Kosher Meals on Wheels launched in 1966, when a group of agen­cies from the Jewish com­mu­nity – in­clud­ing JF&CS, Bay­crest, the Na­tional Coun­cil for Jewish Women, He­brew We­ston Char­i­ta­ble Ser­vices and the United Jewish Wel­fare Fund – banded to­gether to cre­ate the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s first ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee.

It has grown into a ro­bust pro­gram that de­liv­ers meals to more than 1,000 clients each year. This past year, it de­liv­ered 158,000 meals to se­niors across Toronto.

To cel­e­brate the an­niver­sary mile­stone and hon­our the pro­gram’s many vol­un­teers, Cir­cle of Care hosted an event Nov. 14 at Pride of Is­rael Syn­a­gogue at­tended by roughly 200 peo­ple.

The event in­cluded re­marks by Gary New­ton, pres­i­dent and CEO of Si­nai Health Sys­tem, and the pre­sen­ta­tion of awards to some of the vol­un­teers.

Carey Luckie, in­terim pres­i­dent and vice-pres­i­dent of client ser­vices at Cir­cle of Care, said that Kosher Meals on Wheels, like all Cir­cle of Care pro­grams, “aim[s] to sup­port in­de­pen­dent liv­ing,” and many clients are able to con­tinue liv­ing in­de­pen­dently for longer when meals are reg­u­larly de­liv­ered to them.

“As our pop­u­la­tion ages, med­i­cal com­plex­ity in­creases and our se­niors are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly frail. Pro­grams like Kosher Meals on Wheels play an es­sen­tial role in the health and well-be­ing of se­niors in our com­mu­nity,” Luckie added, not­ing that the per­sonal de­liv­ery as­pect of the pro­gram also helps to re­duce the neg­a­tive ef­fects of so­cial iso­la­tion among se­niors.

The food that clients re­ceive is pre­pared at Bay­crest for re­cip­i­ents liv­ing in the south end of the city and at Sepha Foods for those liv­ing fur­ther north.

Both fa­cil­i­ties have sep­a­rate meat and dairy kitchens, as well as an on-site mash­giach who su­per­vises all food pro­duc­tion.

Luckie stressed that all meals are de­vel­oped to fol­low Canada’s Food Guide and Health Canada di­etary rec­om­men­da­tions

Over the years, the num­ber of meals sent out to clients has in­creased sub­stan­tially, and over the last two years, it has al­most dou­bled.

“We ex­pect growth to con­tinue and are com­mit­ted to meet­ing the needs of our clients,” she said.

Luckie em­pha­sized the im­por­tant role vol­un­teers play in the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s func­tion­ing.

“Our vol­un­teers en­gage their chil­dren and grand­chil­dren in de­liv­er­ing meals, and in do­ing so fos­ter a deep, long-last­ing com­mit­ment to hon­our­ing the se­niors in our com­mu­nity… As de­mand con­tin­ues to grow, new vol­un­teers are ur­gently needed.”

Kosher Meals on Wheels is funded by the Con­fer­ence on Jewish Ma­te­ri­als Claims against Ger­many, the Cen­tral Lo­cal Health In­te­gra­tion Net­work, the City of Toronto and other fun­ders such as JF&CS.

More than 158,000 meals were de­liv­ered across Toronto this past year.

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