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State College Meals on Wheels: Volunteers Deliver 45,000 Meals Each Year

by and on March 20, 2013 7:12 AM

On a cold and windy Friday morning in March, hot meals are being prepared in the basement of Grace Lutheran Church.

A local service that has been operating for nearly 42 years, the State College Meals on Wheels provides food to more than 140 residents across 150 square miles.

In production Monday, Wednesday and Fridays, Meals on Wheels has been functioning out of the South Garner Street church since 1971. Although the organization only employs three people, there are about 200 volunteers on the roster. On any one of these days, about five to 10 volunteers can be seen at the church, assisting in preparation, packing and other tasks.

“Each day takes 16 drivers, one volunteer coordinator and about six kitchen workers,” says Executive Director Anna Carol Buffington.

Hot and cold meals, plus a beverage, are delivered to qualified State College residents. About 80 percent of these are senior citizens. The rest are younger people with certain limitations or disabilities. The oldest client currently is 102 and the youngest 14.

Meal preparation begins around 8 a.m., with drivers ready to head out for delivery around 11 a.m.

“Over the course of the year we do approximately 45,000 meals,” Buffington said.

The menus are planned and written by Buffington, who is a registered licensed dietician. Each meal follows federal guidelines for seniors, she said.

Mona Adams and Charles Antle, both of State College volunteer every Friday at Meals on Wheels. Their main task is peeling potatoes. Each Friday they peel two five-gallon buckets of potatoes.

“That’s our specialty,” Antle said.

What the two enjoy most about volunteering is the good fellowship, they said.

“(I) feel good helping other people,” Adams said. “There’s nothing better for senior citizens to do than to volunteer.”

Buffington, who has been executive director for about 25 years, says one of the most beneficial aspects of Meals on Wheels is that it keeps people in their homes longer and helps them socialize so they don’t feel isolated.

“They’re God’s children and they need to be fed,” she said. “We are taking care of God’s children.”

Each year the demands of the State College Meals on Wheels slightly rise due to new retirees. But that hasn’t hindered the agency, which raises all of its own money and doesn’t receive any government funding.

“(We) operate on a shoestring budget,” Buffington states, adding, “We’re the little engine that does.”

To apply for Meals on Wheels, or to become a volunteer or make a donation, call (814) 237-8135 or visit

This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.

Staff Writer at The Centre County Gazette
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