Almost 100 elderly people in the area depend on Meals on Wheels every day for lunch. Now, the program is short of volunteers needed to deliver the much-needed meals to Erath County residents, Dennis Flory, program coordinator.

Within a month, four delivery routes have opened up for various reasons, and backup drivers are called daily to keep up with the meal delivery service.

“We need four to five more volunteers to run routes in town once a week,” Flory said. “And we always need backup drivers when someone is unable to deliver their normal route.”

Flory said a fifth route is expected to open up soon.

Pat MeWhinney is a full time registered nurse who works nights in the emergency room at Harris Methodist Erath County Hospital. But that doesn't stop her from finding time to deliver 12 meals, driving 17 miles in the country, twice a week. And she's been a volunteer for six years.

“I would never consider not doing it,” MeWhinney said. “It's very rewarding. It gives me much more than what I do for them.”

MeWhinney said some of the people she delivers to have no family left at all. They depend on her visit not only for the nourishment it provides, but for company as well.

MeWhinney said that's one reason her route takes a little longer.

“I visit a lot. I love the old people. They just have so much to give to us,” MeWhinney said. “They are so appreciative. I feel like it's giving back to the people that have raised us.”

Gwen Moore said she has been delivering meals for almost six years. Her husband, Ron, began helping out a year ago, when he retired. The couple delivers 12 to 14 meals one time a week.

“We drive three miles and all of our meals are delivered to an apartment complex,” Moore said. “Most are very dependent and it's an opportunity to meet people and learn their concerns. They are all so appreciative that it's very rewarding work.”

Flory said a large vehicle is not needed because the driver only picks up one chest for hot food and one chest for cold food. Each route takes about an hour and a half.

Anyone who would like to volunteer should call 254-965-3510.

ANGELIA JOINER is a staff writer for the Empire-Tribune. She can be reached at angelia.joiner@empiretribune.com or 254-965-3124, ext. 238.