DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — A Dauphin County program is celebrating 50 years of helping seniors in the Harrisburg area. Kosher Meals on Wheels has delivered about 250,000 meals to the elderly, but as volunteers and the seniors they help will say, it is about more than just the food.
Opening her fridge, Sarah Weisberg has a variety of meals to choose from.
“This looks like a nice one. Looks like barbecue chicken wings, carrots, and potatoes,” Weisberg said, opening one of the boxes in her fridge.
It is her latest delivery from Meals on Wheels.
“My desserts probably got eaten already. I tend to have the desserts separately sometimes,” Weisberg said, laughing.
These are kosher Meals on Wheels.
“They don’t serve anything that we’re not supposed to eat according to the Jewish religion,” Weisberg said.
Weisberg lives by herself in her downtown Harrisburg apartment, but it has gotten harder for her to do everything on her own.
“Now I can’t even shop by myself, I need somebody to drive me to the supermarket,” she said.
Weisberg now gets meals delivered three days a week.
“I just can’t even begin to tell you what a blessing it is,” she said.
Before getting to Weisberg, however, these Meals on Wheels start their journey at the Capital Rehabilitation Center, where volunteers like Julie Sherman sort and pack the food.
“What this is on the wall is this is our clients and the food that they get,” Sherman said, indicating the list she works off when packing up bags of food.
Sherman has been volunteering for 16 years.
“I love doing Meals on Wheels because it’s being a cog in a machine. Nobody knows who I am, and nobody knows what I do, but it just helps along the way. It just makes me happy to do it,” she said.
Once every bag is full, they are handed off to even more volunteers for delivery. Ann Rosenberg is one of those volunteers. She started delivering meals four years ago.
“My husband was already doing it, and it was our hot date of the week was to go deliver Meals on Wheels,” she said.
Rosenberg usually comes in once a week to pick up her bags of food and drive them around Harrisburg.
“I love it. This is, it’s my chance to do something for somebody else,” she said.
However, she sees her job as more than just dropping off a good meal. It is about making connections and getting to know the people she is delivering to.
“I usually will go into her place and spend 10, 15 minutes just catching up, how are you, how’s your daughter,” Rosenberg said of one of the recipients on her route. “She may not get another visitor other than her delivery people until the weekend when the family will come and spend time with her.”
For people like Weisberg, this connection is the heart of the Kosher Meals on Wheels program.
“The most important thing is people coming to visit you and that showed up really during COVID,” she said.
Weisberg has family nearby but during the pandemic, her regular meal delivery was a bright spot in her week.
“You really felt isolated,” she said. “And to have anywhere from one to three very nice people come and visit you and chat for a while, it makes a big difference, especially when you’re not going out.”
She said Kosher Meals on Wheels fills people’s hearts, not just their stomachs and that is what makes this 50-year program so special.
“It was just a lifesaver to have them coming three times a week, and I made some really good friends,” she said. “It’s companionship, it’s good food, what could be bad right?”
The Kosher Meals on Wheels program relies on volunteers to keep it going. For more information on how to help, visit the Jewish Family Services website.