Editor's note: This is the fourth in a series of stories highlighting the 21 agencies to receive United Way's annual campaign funds. The next article will run in Saturday's edition of The Telegram.

BY MONICA SPRINGER

Special to The Telegram

Having meals delivered to her home means Garden City resident Mary Ruth Snyder can stay independent.

Snyder, 90, has received Meals on Wheels for about six years.

"It's good and convenient and helps me to stay in my home," Snyder said. "I think it's a wonderful, wonderful program."

Meals on Wheels is one of 21 organizations that will receive funding from the Finney County United Way.

Volunteers for Meals on Wheels deliver meals Monday through Friday to people who are home-bound or handicapped. If requested, a sack lunch for Saturday is also delivered with the Friday meal.

Patti Thummel, director of Meals on Wheels, said the organization requested $10,000 from the United Way. The United Way funding makes up 7.4 percent of the Meals on Wheels budget, Thummel said.

The money will be used so low income clients can have free meals.

From January to the end of July, Thummel said 13,925 meals were served and 3,637 of those meals were served to low income clients. A meal costs $2.65. No one is denied a meal because they can't afford to pay the full amount.

Thummel said 80 percent of the people who receive the meals are elderly. There also are people with illnesses, Thummel said.

"Meals on Wheels gives them their independence and their dignity," Thummel said.

The organization also provides socialization and a daily safety check, Thummel said.

Snyder, who has lived in Garden City since 1954, said she eats something different every day, and the meals are tailored to each person's diet.

Snyder said she has some health problems, including arthritis and kidney failure. She has two daughters, six grandchildren and a number of great grandchildren.

The meals also help Judy Chiorazzi, a Garden City resident who has received meals for about three years.

"I'm really grateful for the program. It has really been a Godsend," she said.

Chiorazzi is 53 and is diabetic. She uses a walker for mobility and can't prepare food for herself very well because of her walker.

Chiorazzi said she is from upstate New York. She has lived in Garden City since 1985.

"I want to thank Meals on Wheels for helping me to lead a healthier, happier life," Chiorazzi said. "I think the people who deliver are just fantastic. They're so friendly and nice."

Meals on Wheels relies on volunteers to take meals to the clients.

Thummel said there are around 350 volunteers, which include individuals, organizations and church groups.

The economy is hitting the Meals on Wheels clients hard, Thummel said. A person is added almost monthly to Meals on Wheels.

Other United Way agencies that will receive funds for 2012 are United Methodist Mexican-American Ministries; Garden City Family YMCA; Kansas Children's Service League; Santa Fe Trail Council Boy Scouts; Smart Start; Playground Program; Catholic Social Services; Family Crisis Services; Spirit of the Plains, CASA; The Salvation Army; Habitat for Humanity; Finney County RSVP, Inc.; Garden City Chapter of the Red Cross; Miles of Smiles; Russell Child Development Center; Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Association; United Cerebral Palsy of Kansas; Big Brothers Big Sisters of Finney and Kearny Counties; Community Day Care; and Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland.

Meals on Wheels

Address: 907 N. 10th St.

Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday

Phone: 260-6282

Executive Director: Patti Thummel