Farmington's Meals on Wheels program gets $3,000 donation from insurance agents
Director says demand for program has increased sharply
FARMINGTON — A group of local insurance agents plans on providing a financial shot in the arm this week to a program that makes sure older, home-bound Farmington residents are fed.
A check for $3,000 will be presented to Jack Lowrey, the adult programs manager at the Bonnie Dallas Senior Center, for the center's Meals on Wheels program, which provides up to seven meals a week for people age 60 or older who are unable to leave their home or prepare their own meals.
The money is coming from State Farm agents Trudy Goldsmith, Ginny Gil, Ben Mortensen, Legrand Jack and Chris Sebastian of Farmington, as well as Thomas Payne of Aztec. Goldsmith said State Farm's Good Neighbor Grant Program allocates the funds to its associates for donation to a nonprofit program.
"That would be a very generous donation for our home-delivered meal program," Lowrey said.
The donation will be used to supplement the center's state and federal funding, he said, explaining that it will be spent to purchase additional food and the products used in the delivery of meals. He also said it would be used to provide stipends for the program's volunteers who are reimbursed for their mileage.
"I would like to express our thanks for the generous donation," Lowrey said. "We truly appreciate it, and our seniors appreciate it, as well."
Goldsmith said she and her fellow agents were looking for a worthy agency to assist when they stumbled across the Meals on Wheels program.
Goldsmith said they were putting together a reference flier for their elderly clients that included the names of agencies, organizations or businesses that could offer them special services during the COVID-19 pandemic. That list included the drive-thru meal program for seniors that the Bonnie Dallas Senior Center was offering, and Goldsmith said that connection led to the decision to make the donation the center's Meals on Wheels program, which has seen an increased demand during the shutdown.
"Everybody just loved that idea," she said, explaining that the program offers a much-needed service to many of Farmington's more vulnerable citizens.
Lowrey said much of the money would go specifically to purchase Oliver Speedseal trays, the trays the program uses to distribute hot and frozen meals to its recipients.
"That's the biggest need we have, and demand for those items has increased," he said. " … Right now, as you can imagine, we're seeing an increased need for our home meal delivery program."
Lowrey said before the COVID-19 shutdown began, approximately 70 people were being served by the program. That figure has now climbed to 90 or 95, he said, and he expects it to keep increasing.
"We get phone calls continuously from the Alzheimer's Association, Northwest New Mexico Seniors and various caregivers," he said.
The money donated by the State Farm agents will help the program meet that increased need, he said.
"The more we can supplement this, it just helps keep everybody who needs the program supplied," he said, explaining there was a brief time earlier this year when the program had a waiting list for recipients, although that is no longer the case.
Goldsmith said the check would be donated to the program sometime this week.
"We are proud and honored to help support their efforts," she said. "Their volunteers have worked very hard to keep food on the table for so many, the least we can do is help with a financial contribution to assist their efforts."
To inquire about the Meals on Wheels program, call the senior center at 505-599-1380. Lowrey said there is a quick, over-the-telephone screening process used to identify people who qualify for the program, and he said a person's income or financial status doesn't factor into that.
He emphasized that only people who live within the Farmington city limits are eligible for the center's Meals on Wheels program. But he said there are four other agencies in the county that also provide the service to qualifying seniors.
Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Support local journalism with a digital subscription.