Mercy Health Love County - News

A Simple Idea in Senior Nutrition Grows and Grows

Posted on Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Article Reprinted from August 2012 Senior News
of Love County Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP)

An ardent advocate for senior nutrition came up with a simple volunteer initiative last November at the Love County Community Coalition in Marietta, and RSVP of Love and Marshall County has turned “Drive by Fruiting” into a robust local-soon-to-be-statewide project.

Underway in Love County since March, and starting in Marshall County in October, “Drive by Fruiting,” delivers a potato, tomato, apple, orange, and banana on a regular basis to senior recipients who need the nutrition and the home delivery.

Credit Rebekah Williams, senior nutrition outreach coordinator for southern Oklahoma, with the concept. It was her way to induce communities to work around state funding cutbacks to senior nutrition programs, she explained to the Coalition, which included, on that Legislator Recognition Day, Sen. Frank Simpson and Rep. Tommy Hardin.

Sen. Simpson invited Williams to come to the Capitol with her volunteer idea.

Locally, Eyvonna Lemons, RSVP director, began rallying community and church groups in Love County to serve the Silver Stars recipients RSVP already was reaching with Christmas food packages in this meaningful and ongoing way.

Some volunteers raise the money to purchase the fruit and vegetables every month. Some volunteers make deliveries.

Lemons had another idea and quickly collaborated with Mercy Health/Love County Hospital, which operates a food pantry licensed by Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.

Regional Food Bank’s Senior Mobile Pantry can provide seniors in greatest need of assistance with a sack of nonperishable food items along with produce, refrigerated, items, and bread when available.

The senior packages now arrive as part of the hospital pantry’s regular deliveries from the Regional Food Bank.

So it is that on the third Monday of the month, Drive by Fruiting-Senior Mobile Pantry swings into action, bagging the goods and delivering to seniors throughout Love County.

Local volunteers described how the day goes:

Alice Cochran: “Braum’s donated the sturdy sacks with handles on them. We sack the canned goods and fruit. This month, each sack included a loaf of bread. We have Drive by Fruiting labels to put on the sacks and Drive by Fruiting T-Shirts to wear. The recipients are very happy. Very few have a car, if they drive at all. This one time, they don’t have to. I wish we could do this more than once a month.”

Wanda (and Dale) Harris: “I retired at Big 5 in May. One of my jobs was the emergency food bank. There are lots of people out there hurting who really need the help. It’s good to be able to help. There’s a great need out there.”

Claudell Higgins: “I take the food to the door and ask how things are going. Recipients are always very thankful. Some have tears in their eyes and say they are so glad you came by. They just don’t have the money for many things nutritious or needed or just enjoyable. One Silver Star recipient put down on a request form that she would like to have toothpaste, another that she hadn’t had gum in years. They just need things.”

Yvone McGinnis: “It’s so neat. Everybody works together to sack the fruit and staple foods. I made deliveries with Rozelle Campbell. We worked together for years at the Health Department. She drives and I get out and meet the people. We delivered 26 bags. The seniors are grateful.”

Edith Redmon: “This is an expansion of the Silver Stars program. I helped with delivery in my area of the county on that. It’s a blessing to me to be a blessing to others. It’s wonderful that God gave Eyvonna and Janeane (Hartman) and the others a heart for giving, because it’s such a blessing to the elderly, all the programs they do. Every recipient has been so thankful. A lot don’t drive at all anymore. They depend on others to take them to the store or to bring things to them.”

In August, Lemons was invited to speak about the RSVP feeding program at the state conference of Oklahoma Home & Community Educators (OSU Extension). As a result, OHCE adopted Drive by Fruiting as a statewide initiative, with a goal of implementing it in all 77 counties in the next three year.

Love County Community Coalition salutes Eyvonna Lemons and RSVP, Rebekah Williams and Senior Nutrition Program, Mercy Health/Love County Hospital, OHCE, and all the volunteers!