hernando meals on wheels

In a community where need can sometimes seem invisible, those at Hernando Meals on Wheels have created an assistance program to serve those living right in their backyard.

Hernando Meals on Wheels (HMOW) coordinates twice-weekly meal distribution to almost 70 Hernando residents who are elderly or disabled.

The 501(c)3 nonprofit began delivering meals to community members in 2019, and board member Rev. David Cox said that the program has become the best way for volunteers to meet others in the community.

“It has created an opportunity to get to know the people in our backyard, and we discovered an incredible amount of need,” Cox said.

The organization is facing a problem, though; it needs more money to expand its services.

With the current budget, HMOW is able to donate a meal on Tuesday and Thursday to their 70 recipients, but the group hopes to widen its reach.

In the future, HMOW President John Hornsby hopes to make meal deliveries to those in their network more frequent and add a kitchen where the group can prepare meals.

In the current setup, two businesses in Hernando — Junior’s and the Kroger deli — supply the food for donations. Each Tuesday and Thursday, volunteers collect the boxed hot meals from the two locations and distribute them to the recipients.

Most of the funding that the group receives, which is almost entirely from donations, goes to purchasing food.

Hornsby said that the large amount of need in the community is the primary reason for wanting to expand services.

“We’re trying to reach people who are underserved or forgotten,” Hornsby said. “It takes a community to recognize who needs to be served.”

While the main objective of HMOW is to provide food to eldery and disabled residents, secretary/treasurer Mary Fuchs said that connecting with neighbors has become increasingly beneficial, especially in these times.

“The need is at an intensity I have never seen before,” Fuchs said. “People are feeling really isolated.”

Most recipients come to HMOW based on recommendations from a loved one or friend. The board carefully vets each candidate to ensure that they meet the level of need.

Hornsby said that providing meals to their recipients can make the difference between living independently at home and moving into an assisted living or retirement home. As adult children can sometimes live far away, HMOW is sometimes the closest thing that these recipients have to family.

While the board members at HMOW recognize the need all across DeSoto County, they aren’t sure they want to expand their services beyond Hernando. Instead, they want to inspire other towns to begin similar programs.

“We’re hoping other communities catch a vision for making it happen in their own communities,” Cox said. “There is a need beyond what we can do.”

To donate to Hernando Meals on Wheels, visit them on Facebook or reach out to hernandomealsonwheels@gmail.com.

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