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Hot meals, interaction help seniors live at home

Staff writer

(Editor’s note: This is a second story in a series about government-funded food programs available to county residents.)

Viola Baker Suderman, of Hillsboro, chatted with Ray Matz on Thursday about how she recently trimmed shrubs in her back yard. Matz could hardly believe that Suderman, 94, had done it all herself.

But he wasn’t there for a social visit; he was delivering Meals on Wheels from Hillsboro Senior Center. On Thursday he delivered seven meals of lasagna, sweet corn, French bread, milk, and fruit.

Matz, 83, set a quick pace during Thursday deliveries. He barely had his pickup truck parked before he retrieved a meal from a cooler. Despite his pace, he took time at each stop to say hello.

“Oh, I enjoy doing this,” Matz said.

For some recipients, daily visits are just as important as hot meals to keep their independence.

Matz began delivering meals about five years ago while he still ran his upholstery business in Hillsboro. He sold his business earlier this year.

“They (the senior center) just called me one day and asked me to help,” Matz said.

Meals cost $2.75, or $4.50 for recipients under 60, with all money going to North Central Flint Hills Area Agency on Aging. The agency provides meals to all area senior centers, including those for Meals on Wheels.

Delivery drivers receive a meal and are compensated for gas mileage, Matz said.

Most deliveries are in Hillsboro, but one destination is outside town. In the past, the program also delivered to Lehigh and Durham, he said.

Senior centers in Goessel, Marion, and Peabody also deliver hot meals.

“People can stay in their homes longer, they get a nutritious meal, and someone sees them every day,” Marion site manager Janet Bryant said.

Marion Senior Center delivers to Florence, Bryant said. The center delivered 32 meals Thursday on three routes.

Participants can ask for extra frozen meals on Friday to tide them over during the weekend, but only one recipient in Hillsboro does, Matz said.

For more information about Meals on Wheels, call a participating senior center — Goessel, (620) 367-2275; Hillsboro, (620) 947-2304; Marion, (620) 382-2942; or Peabody, (620) 983-2226.

Last modified Sept. 2, 2009

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