The volunteers for Lawrence Meals on Wheels are proud that they haven't missed a day of service in 21 years.
"We feel like we're doing a good thing," said Jody Woodward, the organization's board president. "No matter what the weather is like, we always manage to deliver."
Meals on Wheels is an all-volunteer program in which drivers deliver lunches to elderly, disabled or home-bound Lawrence residents Mondays through Fridays.
The organization has been delivering meals every weekday since 1970.
"The community has supported us for 21 years, but we need volunteers to keep the program going," Woodward said.
While demand for Meals on Wheels service has remained high, the program is currently experiencing a shortage of volunteers needed to set up food trays and transport meals to recipients.
"TO VOLUNTEER, you would only need to take an hour a week to help deliver the meals or get the trays ready," said Donna Lewis, program volunteer. "Without volunteers, this program couldn't go on."
Meals on Wheels began with 11 recipients located on five delivery routes for 56 drivers. The program delivered 3,888 meals during its first year, Woodward said.
In 1990, 60 Meals on Wheels drivers delivered 13,800 meals to 60 recipients on 12 delivery routes.
About 18 food distrubution volunteers and 25 substitute drivers also participate in the program.
Currently, each driver delivers about five meals on his or her route one day a week.
Recipients pay $2.50 per meal, but no one is refused a meal because of inability to pay, organizers said.
THE MEALS are prepared in the Lawrence Memorial Hospital kitchen. They usually comprise a main course, vegetables, salad, fruit or cookies, and milk.
However, half to three-fourths of the meals are modified for people who need low-sodium, low-cholesterol or other specialized diets.
"About the only complaint we have is that we don't deliver on the weekends," Woodward said.
Meals on Wheels is one of two food delivery programs in Lawrence.
The other home-delivered meal program is operated through Douglas County Senior Services.
Unlike the Senior Services' meal program, Meals on Wheels does not receive state or federal funding.
"We have to rely on support from the community to lower the (hospital) cost of the meals," Woodward said.
SINCE IT began, the program has operated out of a room near the hospital's physical therapy center on the south side of the LMH building.
Volunteers place pre-packaged food containers and milk into covered trays, which Meals on Wheels drivers pick up from the hospital. Meals are delivered from about 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. each weekday.
People interested in volunteering for the program may contact Woodward at 842-2457 or Lewis at 842-9636.