Soup for Seniors began in October of 2006 as a Make a Difference Day Project for LOA’s Foster Grandparent and Senior Companion Programs. That first year we had very modest goals of serving those within the program as well as the Meals on Wheels recipients. The community fully embraced the project. So much soup and crackers was donated that the LOA was able to service all of its clients, other needy seniors in the community as well as others in neighboring communities. In 2011, with new restrictions of the founding programs, the LOA took the project on as an agency-wide service and joined forces with AARP Virginia. Collection and distribution was moved to late January/early February in order to serve the senior population in the most vulnerable part of winter.
This year’s goal is to collect 42,000 cans of soup to be delivered to 3,000 seniors right here in our community. The project committee has set priority areas and at the top of that list are our homebound Meals on Wheels clients. For many of the 600 recipients, the hot lunch meal they receive is the only meal they have all day. The soup collected helps provide a hot meal on a cold day and also reminds them, in the bleakest part of winter, that the community has not forgotten them. Due to recent budget cuts, the LOA had to cut bag meals for snow days and holidays from its budget. This makes the bag of soup and crackers all that more important to our Meals on Wheels recipients. Other recipients include Congregate Meals participants who look to LOA for a hot lunch meal along with socialization; Senior Companion volunteers and their companions; seniors who rely on LOA for transportation to the doctor or grocery store; and seniors who receive LOA’s intense case management services as well as homemaker and personal care services. Our goal also includes providing the filled soup bags to the over 1,500 residents of low-income, independent senior housing as well as seniors who receive assistance from area Departments of Social Services and Goodwill Industries. Other eligible seniors can call our Intake Case Manager to be placed on a list to be notified when the bags can be picked up. If you know someone in need, call 540-345-0451.
What is Needed
You can make a difference in your community by teaming up with your church, place of business or any organization of which you are a part and doing a collection in January. Then, February 2-7 deliver that collection of soup, crackers and other non-perishable food items to a drop off location close to you. The items most needed by our elderly neighbors include low sodium and nutritious soups, crackers, canned vegetables, canned fruit, canned meats such as tuna, peanut butter and oatmeal. No glass containers, please. All the items collected will be put into reusable cloth bags provided by AARP and distributed into the homes of our elderly neighbors. If you are a part of a civic group, church group or if you want to collect as a service project with your business, we will welcome any and all donations. The more we collect, the more we can serve.
Why it’s needed more than ever
Since April 2013, when the LOA received the first round of budget cuts due to sequestration:
Reduced allowable slots for new Meals on Wheels clients from 675 to 600 and instituted a waiting list for the first time ever. A new client came on the program ONLY if a client came off the program to keep our number at 600
• Closed down our Melrose Towers Diner’s Club which operated for two days per week.
• A waiting list of transportation clients was established. No new clients can be added to the program until another becomes inactive.
• Eliminated snow/emergency shelf-stable food bags for all recipients.
• Eliminated holiday shelf-stable food bags for all but 12% of our recipients.
Prior to April 2013, we had eliminated the breakfast program due to lack of funding.
We are also in need of volunteers. Volunteers play a vital role in this project and it cannot be done without their help. Volunteers are needed in varying capacities. They include:
• People at collection sites to check dates and sort the soup as well as work in an assembly line format putting the donated soup and crackers into the bags, getting them ready for delivery.
• People to deliver those bags to the Meals on Wheels sites, Diners Club sites, senior independent living centers, etc. In some cases, we will need volunteers to deliver to the home.
• Volunteers to pick up soup at the drop off locations and bring to our main collection site.
• Volunteers available at the church to assist in unloading the items.
Drop off Sites
The drive will take place February 2-7, between the hours of 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. The main drop off site is The Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, 4909 North Lake Dr, Roanoke (just off Peter’s Creek Road). Other sites include:
All Valley Bank locations:
o Downtown - 36 Church Ave., SW
o Starkey Road – 4467 Starkey Road, SW
o South Roanoke – 110 McClanahan Street, SW
o Salem – 8 East Main Street, Salem
o Hershberger Road – 1518 Hershberger Road
o Vinton – 1003 Hardy Road, Vinton
o Lewis-Gale – 3850 Keagy Road
o Grandin Village – 1323 Grandin Road
o Bonsack – 4003 Challenger Ave.
o The LOA Central Office, 706 Campbell Ave., SW, Roanoke
o Vistar Eye Center, 426 West Main Street, Salem
o The Patrick Henry, 611 S. Jefferson Street, Roanoke
o Bent Mountain Center, 10148 Tinsley Lane, Bent Mountain
o Bank of Fincastle locations in Botetourt County:
o 17 South Roanoke Street, Fincastle, Virginia 24090
o 5192 Lee Highway, Troutville, Virginia 24175
o 614 Lee Highway, Roanoke, Virginia 24019
o 98 Blue Ridge Boulevard, Roanoke, Virginia 24012
o 1245 Roanoke Road, Daleville, Virginia 24083
o 1645 Roanoke Rd Daleville, VA 24083
o Sites are updated at http://www.loaa.org/ and http://www.createthegood.org/