By Carla Branch

Alexandria Sheriff Dana Lawhorne and staff deliver Meals On Wheels (courtesy photo)

On March 22, 1972, President Richard M. Nixon signed into law an amendment to the  Older Americans' Act of 1965 creating a national nutrition program for seniors over the age of 60. In March 2002 Meals on Wheels America established March for Meals, a month-long community effort to gain more support for local Meals On Wheels programs.  The Alexandria City Council on March 6, presented Senior Services of Alexandria with a proclamation recognizing the local Meals On Wheels program and recognizing March as March For Meals Month.

SSA delivers Meals on Wheels in partnership with the City’s Division of Aging & Adult Services.  Over 350 volunteers deliver meals 365 days a year with sponsorship by many individuals, faith communities and other organizations including:  American Legion Post #24, Beyer Auto Group, Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, Christ Church Gift Shop, Dominion Foundation, Downtown Baptist Church, Hoffman Family Foundation, Hunger Free Alexandria, Immanuel Church on the Hill, Subaru of America, United Way, Walmart and Westminster Presbyterian Church.

Alexandria Mayor Allyson Silberberg presents March For Meals proclamation to SSA Board Chair, Gerry Cooper and SSA Executive Director Mary Lee Anderson (courtesy photo)

On average, local Meals on Wheels volunteers deliver meals to 70-75 clients on eight different routes.  In 2016-17 Alexandria’s Meals on Wheels program we served over 125 clients.  Clients receive two meals daily, one hot and one cold.

During March for Meals month SSA has a number of special of “Champions” lined up to deliver meals:  U.S. Congressman Don Beyer, State Representative Mark Levine, Mayor Allison Silberberg, Vice Mayor Justin Wilson, Councilmembers Del Pepper and Paul Smedberg, Police Chief Michael Brown, Fire Chief Robert Dube and Sheriff Dana Lawhorne.

Sheriff Dana Lawhorne and Undersheriff Tim Gleeson climb 14 floors to deliver Meals on Wheels during March 2 wind-related power outage (courtesy photo)

On Friday, March 2, high winds disrupted many services in Alexandria. A number of volunteers who were scheduled to deliver Meals On Wheels that day were unable to do so. SSA Executive Director Mary Lee Anderson called Sheriff Lawhorne at 7:30 a.m. that day and asked for his help to ensure that seniors who rely on the two meals delivered by Meals On Wheels volunteers received them.

Alexandria Sheriff’s Office had three teams helping that day. Sheriff Dana Lawhorne and Undersheriff Tim Gleeson delivered to several addresses in the West End, including 4600 Duke where a power outage meant they took the stairs to make a delivery on the 14th floor.