By Dallas Jackson SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — This year marks the 60th anniversary for Meals on Wheels of Syracuse, an organization that delivers meals to those in need. Starting out with just eight clients, Meals on Wheels now serves hundreds every week.
Logistics Coordinator Chris Sackett says he’s noticed a change in their clientele.
“The amount of clients, and I’ve been here for four years, it tends to stay around the same,” he said. “But the general city population, it seems to be more of a financial demographic shift as well. It’s not just a population demographic shift.” That means more people in the city need help from groups like Meals on Wheels.
Currently, the organization has only 15 paid staff members. However, there are over 50 volunteers who help every day. The volunteers help prepare, package and deliver the food.
“That’s pretty much how we run,” Sackett said. “Without them, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do.”
With 60 years under their belt for Meals on Wheels, what’s next for the organization? Well, Sackett thinks the answer might be using technology.
“We are piloting an app program,” he said. “We’re one of 10 Meals on Wheels in the country that are doing this program right now, which utilizes this Mobile Meals App. So that not only are we able to communicate with our drivers better as far as deliveries are concerned, but the safety checks. The change in conditions.” When Meals on Wheels drivers deliver food, they also check on their clients.
Sackett sees a bright future ahead for the organization.
“Heading into our 61st year we’re hoping that between the new relationships, the new programs, the new technologies that we’re working with, everything’s going to keep moving us forward,” he said.
Sackett joked about using drones to deliver food to those in need.
“They would fly over and boop!,” he said with a chuckle. “Drop the meals down to customers.”
He did say he’d like for Meals on Wheels of Syracuse and other similar organizations to eventually coordinate.
“There’s also a Kosher Meals on Wheels, and an ECHO (Ecumenical Community Helping Others) Meals on Wheels in Camillus among other organizations,” he said. “What I’m hoping is way down the line, we’ll be able to work together to cover the entire county.”