This Thanksgiving, 35 volunteers for the Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services Meals-On-Wheels program will home-deliver meals, which are protected by insulated food carriers, to 350 Somerville and Cambridge residents, altogether --- until approximately 12 p.m., according to Mary Ann Dalton, Assistant Executive Director of Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (SCES).
Each Thanksgiving, volunteers are sought because the program's regular drivers have that day off. Normally, about 700 meals are normally delivered on a daily basis.
Included in the organization's Thanksgiving meal, one will find the contents of a "traditional" holiday dinner --- complete with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, squash, a roll, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie --- although, should an individual require a specific diet, he or she will be accommodated.
For the most part, SCES's clients are, at least, 60 years of age, although, the number of younger individuals who are receiving services, is on the rise. More than 2,500 people, in various programs and 4,400 callers, were assisted last year.
"All of our clients have challenges that require assistance so they can live independently," said Dalton.
Currently, "a number of meals that address specific medical and dietary needs" are available, through SCES. Such options include: diabetic, cardiac, low renal, high renal, low lactose, as well as "meals for people who need their food to be a certain consistency, such as chopped, ground [or] pureed," she said.
At present, a vegetarian dietary option is non-existent because the organization, "There is not a very big demand. However, we anticipate that the demand will increase in the future, at which time, we would probably add that option, as well," said Dalton.
Beginning in the early 1970s, SCES has operated akin programs in Somerville and Cambridge.
A private, non-profit organization, SCES is a state-designated, Aging Services Access Point (ASAP) --- as well as a federally-designated Area Agency on Aging (AAA). Moreover, several SCES programs are available in Greater Boston.
The organization "strives to enable older adults and younger people with disabilities to remain living in their own or their families' homes, for as long as they choose to do so, through services such as homemaking, personal care, transportation, personal emergency response systems, shopping and meal delivery," said Dalton.
Also available are "opportunities for people to improve their health and well-being, by participating in evidence-based, disease prevention programs."
In the future, "We would like to enhance our capacity to address our client's mental health needs, by providing in home mental health services," said Dalton. Interested individuals may contact SCES at (617)-628-2601 or eldercare.org.