Volunteer Lenny Pearce, Century Link employee, and Mike Brown, county commissioner district 6, were at the senior center in Gardner March 20 delivering Meals on Wheels lunches to seniors. Photo courtesy of Rick Poppitz


Rick Poppitz
Special to The Gardner News
Meals on Wheels is a national program that serves senior citizens in virtually every community in America and has done so since March of 1972, when the Older Americans Act of 1965 was amended and established a nutrition program for seniors.
Funding for Meals on Wheels comes from multiple sources, including all levels of government, individuals, businesses and community organizations.
In many states, the state governments match the contribution of federal funds.
Every March since 2002, under the banner of ‘March for Meals,’ various events are held to raise funds and encourage participation.
In Gardner, on Monday through Friday all year round, the program provides a hot meal to seniors, delivered by local volunteers.
Mike Brown, county commissioner district 6, was in Gardner on Monday delivering Meals on Wheels lunches to seniors.
“As a Johnson County Commissioner, and as a citizen, and as someone who knows people that benefit from the Meals on Wheels program, I see the value in it. To me it’s a no brainer. It provides a service to people who need it, who are in a position where they can’t handle that on their own. I do believe that as Americans, as a citizen or as a government, we need to step up and help those who are not in a position to help themselves, “Brown said, as he loaded hot meals in a car for delivery.
Most of the local volunteers are spending their work lunch hour to bring a meal to others. A group of employees from Century Link, for example, coordinate their schedules and have participated for years.
Volunteers will tell you that the positive results of the program goes beyond the simple delivery of food.
The visits become a daily wellness check and provide a connection to the community.  Volunteers get to know these people and see the results first hand.
“For a lot of these people, we’re the only people they see during the day. Just to be able to stop by and give these people a meal, just for them to see a familiar face means a lot”, says Lenny Pearce, one of the volunteers who works at Century Link.
“You build a relationship with them. We’ve had birthday parties over lunch with them. There’s far more benefit than just delivering a hot meal,” says Kristy Harrison, Century Link employee and Gardner city council member.
Harrison has volunteered for about 8 years.
Another local that uses their work lunch break to volunteer is Meghan McDermott, who works for the Gardner Edgerton Chamber of Commerce.
“For me, the community is my extended family. I think that Meals on Wheels is a great