By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
Two longtime State Farm icons this week demonstrated their support of a meal delivery program now in its 45th year nourishing Yukon.
Yukon business leaders John Mercer and Cherie Logan on Wednesday morning presented an “oversize” check representing a $1,500 gift they’ve made to Yukon Mobile Meals on behalf of their State Farm agencies.
Longtime Mobile Meals’ director Joanne Oltmanns accepted the generous contribution at the Mobile Meals’ office inside the Dale Robertson Center, 1200 Lakeshore.
“We were so excited to hear from State Farm,” Oltmanns said. “Their company is allowing their agents to make a donation to a non-profit in their community that’s helped out during the pandemic.”
“The timing could not be any better. We have been very, very lucky with people supporting us during this pandemic.”
The Mobile Meals’ program – established in 1975 – has seen a large increase in people needing meal deliveries due to COVID-19, which has caused many vulnerable people to shelter at home.
“Mobile Meals provides a great service to people in need in our community,” Mercer said.
“With the increase because of the virus, this seemed like the right thing to do.”
Mobile Meals offers nutritious lunch meals to Yukon’s homebound elderly, disabled and convalescing residents unable to prepare their own meals.
The meal delivery service is available to people in Yukon city limits.
Since it is not a federally sponsored program, there are no age limitations.
“It is based on need,” Oltmanns said. “We can serve where the need is.”
State Farm encourages local agents to support community projects, and Mercer and Logan knew the ideal recipient.
Logan pointed to the 45 years that the Mobile Meals’ program has served Yukon’s “elderly and shut-ins”, combined with the recent increase in clients and inability for Mobile Meals to have any fundraisers because of the pandemic.
Logan said she and Mercer knew their $1,500 donation will provide 750 meals to those who need them.
Pre-COVID, Mobile Meals averaged 80-85 meal recipients daily. That number increased significantly in recent months, reaching a high of 114 and consistently exceeding 100.
Clients’ average age is more than 80, although a few recipients are under 55.
Volunteers deliver meals to recipients’ homes between 10:45 a.m. and noon Monday through Friday (except holidays).
Mobile Meals does more than provide nutritious meals. The program’s volunteers extend care by serving as a regular “check-in” with each recipient, helping them sustain independence and enhance their quality of life.
Suggested donation is $2 per meal. However, those who cannot pay will not be denied.
VOLUNTEERS, DONORS HELP
Yukon Mobile Meals is a non-profit 501C3 agency that relies on volunteers who help cook and deliver meals. Only paid staff members are the part-time director and part-time cook Jason Copeland.
Mobile Meals has 40 regular drivers who run six routes daily. The cook and six helpers comprise the kitchen staff, and there are two retail pickup drivers and one office volunteer.
Unfortunately, the program’s volunteer base has declined because of COVID-19.
“We are still doing OK because we have a lot of volunteers now who pick up a day a week rather than once or month or every other week,” Oltmanns explained. “We have between 50 to 60 volunteers now. Before the pandemic, we had 75 to 100.”
Yukon Mobile Meals was started in April 1975 by Charlotte Novak and Jean Claire Lawson, who spearheaded the effort through Church Women United.
“That was a women’s group among all the Yukon churches; they identified the need and did the research,” Oltmanns said.
Since 1997, the program has been housed inside the City of Yukon’s Dale Robertson Center at 1200 Lakeshore.
Because of the pandemic, Mobile Meals also had to suspend its fundraisers like a popular monthly bingo night.
That makes donations like the $1,500 from State Farm’s Mercer and Logan so important.
“We’ve had several other businesses – and churches that have stepped up their monthly donations – because they know the need is there,” Oltmanns said.
“We’re still running over 100 (meals) a day.”
“We haven’t been below 100 since the pandemic started.”
About 10 Yukon churches regularly support the program.
Sponsorships are available – $10 weekly, $35 monthly and $360 yearly to feed one meal recipient.
Tax-deductible donations to Yukon Mobile Meals are accepted through Pay Pal on Mobile Meals’ website.
“We have varying degrees of sponsors,” Oltmanns said. “We have some who send in $10 once a month to provide a week’s worth of meals, and we have several yearly sponsors.”
Applications also may be made through Mobile Meals’ site. For more information, call 350-5900 or visit http://www.yukonmobilemeals.com