Wheels & Meals continues to draw strong community support

Posted November 7, 2011 at 9:44 pm

The Miller Area Foundation recently awarded third-quarter distribution checks, and the Wheels and Meals program received $2,000.00. Richard Palmer, director of the program in the Miller-St. Lawrence area, commented, “Every year, I am absolutely amazed by the generosity of this community.”

According to Palmer, the Wheels and Meals program in Hand County is by far the smallest program in the state. “We are but a small island in the midst of many larger programs in the region. The nutrition program, especially, is dwarfed by programs such as those found in Rapid City, Aberdeen, Sioux Falls and Brookings.”

By comparison, Miller-St. Lawrence serves but a fraction of the meals provided by the larger programs. Huron not only serves meals as close as Wolsey and Wessington, but also provides Highmore with Senior Meals, Palmer noted.

“Ironically, Miller remains completely independent of the much larger programs surrounding us. This is not an oversight by the Department of Social Services. The Department obviously understands that our program, including the community, is strongly committed to the promotion and financial support for services provided. Without that support, we would quickly be absorbed by our much larger counterparts.” Palmer stated.

He says support comes not only from the Miller Area Foundation of the South Dakota Community Foundation, but also from the City of Miller, On Hand Development, service and religious organizations, memorials and individual donations. “In a most recent request to our local merchants, an overwhelming response allowed us to purchase nine insulated carrying cases used to transport meals.”

Within the last year, the Wheels and Meals bus has provided in excess of 4,000 rides to seniors. Nearly 3,000 of those rides were reported to the Department of Social Services as medical or shopping trips. In addition, the Nutrition Program served 11,258 meals, 4,539 of which were delivered by volunteers.

Palmer says the volunteers are, “some of the most generous, caring people in the world, who give—at their own expense—their time and talents to deliver meals through ‘rain, sleet and snow’.”

He commented, “Without those volunteers, our Hand County hospital partner, and the awesome financial support of our community, Wheels and Meals would not exist.”

According to the 2010 Census, 25.3 percent of the persons living in Hand County are 65 years and older, compared to the statewide percentage of 14.3 percent. For that reason alone, the Wheels and Meals program meets an essential need.

Palmer added, “I echo the remarks by our Mayor, noted in the Miller Press a couple of weeks ago. We have a lot to be proud of in our community, but most of all the people. What a great place to live and work. I’ve maintained for years that Miller-St. Lawrence is the best-kept secret in South Dakota.”