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The sun was shining bright as Dottie Lowery pulled in and parked her car near the entrance to the building. She was told it was going to be a special day — she had a “celebrity” riding along.
That didn’t faze Lowery, a five-year volunteer driver with the county’s Home Delivered Meals Program. She went about her normal routine of filling the cooler with milk and ice and loading it into her trunk. With one more trip into the building, she received her list for the day along with the exact number of meals.
Compared to other volunteer drivers’ days, Friday was straightforward for Lowery. She had eight stops to complete. She didn’t skip a beat, though, as she swiftly loaded her meals and Joe Meek, county commission chairman, climbed into her front seat.
Off they went to Beverly Hills, to deliver home-bound residents their dietician-approved meal for the day.
The Citrus County Commission proclaimed March as “March for Meals” month and joined volunteer drivers as they went about their routes.
“This is such a great program that Citrus County offers
to the community,” Meek said.
He thanked Lowery for her daily dedication to the program and meal recipients. She was grateful for his kind words, but didn’t let him slack an inch as she put him to work.
After each home, they would return back to the cooler and prepare for the next residence. Friday’s menu included milk, beef, cabbage, peas, fruit and a green cookie.
Citrus County’s Home Delivered Meals Program, operating under the umbrella of Citrus County Community Support Services, has supplied caterer-prepared hot, noontime meals Monday through Friday to the homebound since 1979. The meals are delivered between 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
Senior citizens age 60 and older who are no longer able to leave their home without assistance, qualify for the program. Serving more than 400 meals daily, organizers and volunteers work toward the goal of “no senior goes hungry” in Citrus County.
“Without the food that they get every day, a lot of people would go hungry,” said Citrus County Senior Services operations supervisor Pat Coles.
“The food that we deliver is looked at by a dietician,” Coles said. “It is one-third the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) needed by an adult. We know that they are going to get a protein, starch, vegetable, milk and a dessert. They might want to eat a bowl of ice cream for dinner, but that is OK because we know that they have at least had one healthy meal during the day.”
An additional benefit of this program is the personal contact and support received from the local volunteers and staff. The volunteers provide a support system and a daily check on each client’s well-being. Coles told of a time a client had fallen and the volunteer was able to save their life by checking in on them and calling for emergency help.
Fundraising and word of mouth keep this program running.
“Because of all of the fundraising that we are doing and getting the word out, that helps us to not have a waiting list,” Coles said. “Unfortunately, our grants never go up, but our need does. That’s why we have to continue to fundraise and get the word out to people so that no senior goes hungry.”
The program is funded by an Older Americans Act grant. The grant pays for the home-delivered meals, congregate meals at the senior centers and transportation. The meals are delivered by the volunteers who use their own vehicles.
To sign up for home-delivered meals or to donate funds, call 352-527-5975.
Contact Chronicle reporter Eryn Worthington at 352-563-5660, ext. 1334, or email@example.com.