Local Spotlight- Meals on Wheels of Benton County
How to Support
- Monetary Donations
- Food Donations
- Delivery Drivers
Hours & Locations
Monday- Friday: 8am-11am
Office and Kitchen-
2004 S. 13th Street Rogers, AR
For 35 years, Meals on Wheels of Benton County has been serving those in need in Northwest Arkansas. Now, more than ever, they need our support and assistance. We conducted a phone interview with Michael Jeffcoat, the President of Meals on Wheels of Benton County. We wanted to hear from him, first-hand, how Northwest Arkansas can help his organization during this time.
Steve: How many people a day does Meals on Wheels Serve and what meals do you provide?
Jeffcoat: We serve a hot meal for lunch everyday, 7 days a week, to just under one hundred people.
Steve: What areas do you serve?
Jeffcoat: We deliver pretty much all over Benton county from the lake, Lowell, Pea Ridge, Garfield, Rogers. Now we don’t do Bentonville or Bella Vista because they have their own government subsidized program.
Steve: Who goes to the store to grocery shop and prepare meals for the week?
Jeffcoat: That’s my job. And I’m having a difficult time finding meat, bottled water, and canned goods. I’ve reverted to buying some frozen things like meatballs, lasagna, and things like that to substitute the roast and pork chops we used. But I go to the grocery store about everyday after I figure out what we are having to find some sides to go with it.
Steve: Is the menu planned each day or a week in advance? How do you prepare?
Jeffcoat: We actually plan it a month ahead because we have a dietitian that goes over our menu to make sure that it’s balanced. Now we do have to substitute sometimes because sometimes ingredients are not available, but we improvise and come up with something else.
Steve: How many cooks do you have and do you have anyone helping with day-to-day operations?
Jeffcoat: 2 cooks. My wife and my daughter, Debbie Jeffcoat and Michelle Dalton. They go in around 4am-4:30am to prepare meals for that day. We do have a secretary that comes in at 8am to answer the phone and add people to our list. She also prepares the list for the next day and determines how many meals we need to prepare. We are about 95% volunteer work.
Steve: After the food is prepared and boxed up, you have to deliver it correct?
Jeffcoat: Yes, that is where we are having some trouble because our delivery drivers are older as well and don’t want to go out. So, in that case, my wife and I will step in and go fill the deliveries for that day.
Steve: How many delivery people do you normally have?
Jeffcoat: I have 6 routes, so I have 6 delivery drivers everyday. Some people do once a week, some do once a month, and then I have some substitutes that fill in when somebody is sick. I think we have about 35 delivery people, but they don’t do it everyday because it would be like a job or a chore and this is more like a fun deal. We also have companies like NCR, Walmart Warehouse, and Sam’s Club that will do all the routes one day a month. So we do have some corporate help on delivery, but we could always use more.
Steve: Where does your funding come from?
Jeffcoat: Our funding comes from both food and monetary donations. We do not take any government funding because the government requires your clients to be 65 years or older and we have paraplegics that are in their 50s in a wheelchair.
Steve: Do your delivery drivers go in the house or do they wait outside?
Jeffcoat: No, we stand outside. Now, in the last couple of weeks we’ve been leaving it at the door and ringing the doorbell and talking to them at a 6 foot distance because they are older and they more susceptible. I would say the average age of our clients is probably 70 or older so we make sure when we deliver a meal that they’re up, dressed, and coherent. You know, that they are talking to us. “How are you doing today?” “Did you take your medications?” “Do you need anything?” Just making sure they’re okay.
Steve: Are there any requirements for delivery drivers?
Jeffcoat: They need means of transportation, insurance, and we do have a background check.