My favorite local nonprofit, Meals on Wheels and More launched a fundraising campaign today that includes a recipe contest. Recipes will be judged on food costs, the practicality of preparing it for thousands of clients, prep and cooking time, the ease of use in industrial-sized kitchen equipment, and nutritional value. It goes without saying that the final product should taste good. Central Texans can submit recipes today through September 10 via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by dropping off a printed version at their Central Kitchen front desk at 3227 E. 5th St Austin, TX 78702. The winning recipe will be named for the creator, and become a part of the revolving menu of meals delivered to clients.
Please support MOWAM by donating to their 40 Days for 40 Years campaign. Recent cuts by United Way have greatly affected this vital nonprofit, who by year’s end will have cooked almost one million meals for the homebound and others in need in the Greater Austin area. The goal is to raise $40,000, which will fund 16,000 meals. Did you do the math? Yes, it costs only $2.50 per meal to feed an Austinite who might otherwise go hungry. That $40 you spent at happy hour last Friday translates to 16 meals.
I’ve volunteered for MOWAM for years, delivering meals to clients near downtown Austin. My experience has been life changing. As you may hear from many nonprofit volunteers, my mindset in the beginning was that I wanted to make a difference in the lives of others. What I learned early on was that my clients make a difference in my life. There are days when I am too busy or not feeling up to it or simply lazy, and I’ll think to myself that skipping a delivery won’t mean much. When I do drag myself up and go out to give meals to my clients, those are the days that they give back to me. Sometimes it is a simple thank you and a smile, other times it is an energetic discussion of world religion or economics, more often than not it is when I hear how happy my client is to see me, and my spirit soars.
In dedicating one hour a week to give out a meal, I find that my clients give back much more. I have an eclectic bunch of Austin seniors, some who are Spanish speaking only, some who prefer not to speak much at all, an aging casanova who loves to come to the door in his undies, and a 90-something professor who has the best stories of all time. Of.All.Time. Seriously, how many times have you ever had a conversation that started out “I got drunk at a festival in India once and danced for three days. My heels cracked”? I’m a better person for knowing these vibrant and truly lovely individuals.
MOWAM also has volunteer positions that are not for meal delivery. You can make Care Calls, or help transport a client’s pet for a vet visit, or become a Handy Wheels volunteer and help with minor home repairs. There are volunteers who take clients to the grocery store, or shop for them. With so many ways to help our community by becoming a MOWAM volunteer, please take a moment and ask yourself if you can dedicate an hour a week to a nonprofit experience that is richly rewarding. More information can be found on their website, or by calling (512) 476-MEAL. If you’d like to join me and deliver meals, Volunteer Orientation for Meal Delivery is held at Central Kitchen every Thursday at 12:15 p.m.