Wayne Lammers put spikes on his shoes Friday so he could deliver frozen meals to twelve home-bound people after an ice storm delayed the typical Thursday delivery.
Wayne Lammers laced up his shoes and strapped up his spikes. Freezing rain had been falling over Missouri for two days. The sun came back to Boonville on Friday, shimmering off trees glazed with ice.
Lammers and Cindy Newton deliver meals every Thursday to homebound clients in Boonville. But last Thursday, the ice made it impossible. For the people Lammers serves, getting out to buy groceries is hard enough in good conditions, he said. After two days where travel was nearly impossible for everyone, he figured some of them could be seriously in need of food.
The Meals 4 You program, similar to Meals on Wheels, is a partnership between the Central Missouri Area Agency on Aging and the Boonslick Senior Center in Boonville. Clients receive insulated blue tote bags loaded with seven frozen meals, a quart of milk, a loaf of bread and a ziplock bag filled with snacks.
In total, the Boonslick Senior Center serves meals to 78 homebound clients throughout Cooper County, the center’s director Sherry Bellamy said. They also serve between 25 and 50 meals at the center every day.
Determined to deliver meals Friday, Lammers strapped on his spikes for the first time and fired up the red pickup truck.
Lammers went up to the Boonslick Senior Center towing a block of ice that had frozen to the truck bed. He loaded up the truck with 84 frozen meals packed into twelve, big, blue bags that appropriately included pouches of hot cocoa mix — sugar-free for clients managing diabetes.
A welcome surprise
Lammers delivers meals to Lilburn Shirley every week, but Shirley was surprised to see him Friday. The last time the two had spoken, it looked like a delivery wasn’t going to be possible. But Lammers climbed up the brick staircase leading to Shirley’s house. The brick was mostly clear, so Lammers spikes clicked and crunched as he carried the blue bag up to Shirley’s door.
Shirley, a life-long Boonville resident, said he has received delivered meals for a few years.
“I look forward to them every week,” Shirley said. “They’re real handy.”
He grew up on a farm outside Boonville with the Hill family, who adopted him. He graduated from Laura Speed Elliott High School and has worked in kitchens all over town.
Shirley prepped and cleaned at the Hotel Frederick, tended bar at big house parties, baked at the Kemper Military and cooked several places, he said. Now retired, Shirley said his favorite meal he gets delivered is the sweet and sour chicken and rice.
The sun was beaming and roads were mostly clear Friday, so Lammers was able to make some of his deliveries without issue. Still, the air was cold, and untreated areas like some sidewalks, driveways and parking lots were treacherous.
The spikes were especially useful at one house, which had an uphill driveway, still covered in a sheet of ice. Lammers scaled the driveway, delivered the food, and then laid salt down to help the driveway thaw, he said.
Meals 4 You
While Meals on Wheels delivers hot meals, Meals 4 You delivers frozen meals and packaged food. Delivering hot meals throughout the county just isn’t practical, Bellamy said. A lot of communities have switched to frozen meals for that reason.
The meals are ordered through the Central Missouri Area on Aging, a group that serves 19 counties, including 23 senior centers. The frozen meals are prepared by Graves Menu Maker Foods in Jefferson City, Bellamy said.
Everyone who gets a meal from the center, whether they get it delivered or eat it at the center, is asked to donate $4 to cover the cost of the meal. Nobody is ever turned away because they can’t pay, and the center doesn’t even know who pays, Bellamy said.
Anyone who is homebound can get meals delivered, Bellamy said. That doesn’t mean that they never leave their home, just that it’s very difficult for them to get to the grocery store and cook for themselves.
The center is always looking for volunteers, whether they volunteer to deliver meals or to help out inside the center, Bellamy said. The center doesn’t have many people working on staff, so it relies on people volunteering their time. As a nonprofit, the center also relies on donations from the community, she said.
A truck with a mission
A sign on the driver-side door of Lammer’s delivery truck reads: “LeRoy Vanderhoof Meals on Wheels.”
Vanderhoof got Lammers into delivering meals three years ago, Lammers said. Vanderhoof, who died in 2016, did a lot of good for Boonville. If you needed a ride to church, Vanderhoof would take you. If you needed a meal, Vanderhoof would bring it to you in his red pickup, Lammers said.
“He was a firm believer in helping his fellow man,” he said.
Lammers said he wanted Vanderhoof’s name to stay present in the community, and he wanted to carry on his legacy. So, Lammers still delivers meals in the red truck, with Vanderhoof’s name still printed on the door.
Finished delivering his meals for the week, Wayne Lammers climbed in the red pickup truck and headed off to enjoy his afternoon. Lammers is a photographer, and he said he was going to take photos of ice-covered Boonville shimmering under the midday sun.