Food & Friends seeks volunteers

Food & Friends, comprising the Senior Meals and Meals on Wheels programs of Josephine and Jackson Counties, has been serving hot nourishing meals to seniors in the Illinois Valley for the past 20 years.  “Our monthly average equals around 600 hot and frozen meals combined. Most are delivered within a five-mile radius from the meal site located at the Illinois Valley Senior Center,” said Meal Site Coordinator, James Nelson. Caregivers and family members also pick-up meals to-go at the meal site.

Nelson acknowledged that volunteers are the key to achieving the Food & Friends mission: “We strive to cultivate an inclusive approach to improving the health, wellbeing and independence of seniors and people with disabilities through nutrition services, meaningful social connections and opportunities for education.”

Food & Friends Nutrition Program Director Jon Pfefferle oversees the two-county Food & Friends program for the Rogue Valley Council of Governments. According to Pfefferle, “We strive to provide the Illinois Valley community’s most vulnerable seniors with a hot, nutritious meal, social interaction and an invaluable safety check.”

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the valley’s Senior Meal Site experienced much higher volumes of in-person diners. “At our Cave Junction meal site, located within the warm and inviting Illinois Valley Senior Center, we provide a comforting environment for seniors to come together to enjoy lunch and a laugh with their friends,” said Pfefferle who hopes to see an increase in on-site dining. Lunch is served Monday, Wednesday, and Friday between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. There is a suggested donation of $2.75 per meal.

“We are reaching out to the community to join with us to continue our efforts to provide a fresh meal and social interaction for seniors in the Illinois Valley,” said Pfefferle.

“Volunteers are the heart of our program

and the bond between Food & Friends

and our seniors.”

Volunteer delivery drivers are the bread-and-butter of the Meals on Wheels program – their friendly smiles go hand in hand with each hot, nourishing meal delivered to local homebound seniors.

“We currently need help delivering Meals on Wheels on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays,” said Nelson. Through dedicating only 2 hours of your day, one day a week, you too can be a part of the Food & Friends family. Mileage reimbursement is available.

To find out more about Food & Friends volunteer opportunities drop by their table Saturday, April 8 during the Illinois Valley Volunteer Fair from 11 a.m. till 2 p.m. at IV High School. Or contact call them at 541- 973-7067. The website is also a great resource at www.rvcog.org.

PICTURED:   Volunteer, Jim Shirley volunteer, pictured with Food & Friends meals delivery driver.