Meals On Wheels Atlanta: October 2020 Pledge
We have kicked off our pledge program with a bang! As you might already know, The Drake House was our first pledge, and they were an exceptional partner. This month was no different. We had the opportunity to work with Meals On Wheels Atlanta (MOWA) as our October 2020 pledge. I cannot stress this enough. They are a first-class organization having a massive impact on our communities. I had the privilege to visit their facility and see the work in action.
What They Do
MOWA was founded in 1965 to solve poverty, food insecurity, and social isolation amongst senior populations. What started as a small soup kitchen is now a highly productive organization that serves 514,000 meals to seniors each year. What pops out in that statement is not only how many meals are delivered each year, but how many seniors are in need around the Greater Atlanta Area.
MOWA might have started out just feeding seniors, but they have quickly acknowledged and adapted to other needs. Home repair is a growing issue for this population. From A/C failures to roof leaks, some fixes are just too costly. If affording food is already an issue, how is anyone likely to afford an HVAC replacement that will run several thousands of dollars. Shoot, some of these HVACs are so old, these seniors likely need an entire system replacement. They might be able to come out with a bill slightly under $10,000. In Georgia where summer is long and dominate, that is unlikely.
These services provide more than just good living standards; They establish quality of life. Food deliveries are social encounters. They are a chance to engage and converse for many seniors that live alone. My best days always involve a warm meal and good conversation. It is a reasonable assumption that these meals are the highlight of the day for many seniors. All of these services are centered around the idea of giving seniors independence with quality of life as they age. Being able to stay in the comfort of their home with food on the table is the best possible outcome for this population in need.
Like most nonprofit, volunteers are the backbone of MOWA. From packing the meals to delivering them, volunteers play an enormous role in helping this vulnerable population. They bring the enthusiasm and dedication needed to execute such an incredibly large operation. More than 514,000 packed, delivered and served almost entirely by the hearts of good citizens trying to make a difference. I’ve worked in coffee for 7 years and do not think I have made that many drinks and coffee bags combined.
With COVID, MOWA has changed some of their processes. Mostly, they made adjustments to keep meal pickups outside. Upon my visit, the last thing I was shown was the drive thru. We walked outside from the side of the building, and there they were – four giant walk-in fridges. As a small business owner, I could not help but to think of the electric bill those magnificent chambers generate. Normally, meals are distributed every day of the week. Now, MOWA has “Super Saturdays.” Every Saturday, volunteers pick up meals using the no-contact drive thru and deliver an entire week’s worth of meals.
Volunteers help MOWA save over half-a-million in labor costs annually. That money saved provides more meals for more seniors in need. Volunteers are so vital to MOWA. No matter the obstacle, this organization finds a way to help our seniors, and the volunteers of the Greater Atlanta Area show even more compassion in doing the same.
We cannot ignore the obvious. The impacts of COVID are deep and widespread. Businesses are failing. People are losing jobs. Many are sick. Many were sick and now face post-illness complications. Sadly, 1.17 million have been reported dead worldwide as a result of coronavirus and still counting. From the beginning, seniors have been the most vulnerable population. Chances of mortality are the highest of any other age group. That said, MOWA has done a phenomenal job adjusting protocol to continue services for seniors already enrolled in the program. These adjustments take into account the safety of the seniors and volunteers.
Although the adjustments have allowed MOWA to operate, resources are tight. Because of the nature of their services, COVID is taking its toll twofold through seniors in need and fundraising. The pandemic brought a increase in seniors needing MOWA services. Currently, there are over 250 seniors on a “Can’t-Wait List.” These seniors are new to the program, but there are not enough funds to provide weekly meals. Part of this shortage is a result of event cancelations.
One fundraising event that particularly stands out is A Meal To Remember. Each year, MOWA flies in top chefs from around the world to create a unique, five-course meal experience. I said, “Um… yes, count me in! How much for a ticket?” I wasn’t given a single-admission answer, but a full table of 8 is $10,000. Attendees generously donate funds for different sponsorship packages ranging from $3,500 to $100k. I looked up a single admission ticket price: $1,000. That isn’t too bad for five courses from the world’s finest chefs and a good cause. A Meal To Remember raises hundreds of thousands of dollars contributing to over 120,000 meals for the year. Simple math here; Funds raised from A Meal To Remember are nearly 1 in every 4 meals MOWA will serve in a year. This year’s event – cancelled. That’s 120,000+ meals not provided to hungry seniors in need. That’s 120,000+ personal encounters these seniors cherish gone.
Simply put, COVID is crushing the independence of this vulnerable population. Even worse, this pandemic is causing this demographic to grow. More seniors are falling below the poverty line facing chronic diseases and disabilities. That does not even consider the dangers this population encounters from the coronavirus. Without the biggest fundraiser of the year taking place and the demand for their services increasing, MOWA has never needed our support more than this point in time.
It was purely good timing. Prior to this pledge program becoming official, we looked around at local nonprofits to see which ones are doing the work they claim to be doing. MOWA was at the top of the list. Back in July, I received an email from Drew Schiffer, Golf Tournament Coordinator. Drew was looking for businesses interested in sponsoring their annual golf tournament, The Bentley Atlanta Golf Classic. He was also finding companies willing to donate products for swag packs received by tournament participants. We gladly said yes to donating the coffee. So, Peach made over 100 bags for the benefit.
I brought up our pledge program. It just so happened that the tournament took place the same month we planned for MOWA to be our pledge. It was destiny for us to be an event sponsor and play some golf. I am not a big golfer. In fact, I had never played golf a day in my life prior to this pandemic. As a former college athlete, I continue to compete. I love to play flag football year-round. COVID changed that quickly. Golf, fortunately, was a spacious activity full of personal challenges and competition. It is this reason why MOWA had little issue finding participants and sponsors for the event.
Although I am novice to the game, David is not. It was fair to say he carried our team and made up for many of my gaffes. The day was perfect. Forecast was low 70s with clear skies and no humidity. NO HUMIDITY! It was a day to remember just from the breathtaking scenery alone. We later found out that the event raised $82,759. In terms of meals, that amounts to over 20,000 meals. Despite the pandemic, the tournament was a huge success for MOWA. It might not completely make up for the loss of A Meal To Remember. However, every dollar raised counts and every meal matters.
What You Can Do
To start, volunteer! As mentioned before, Meals On Wheels Atlanta has taken great measures to assure the safety of seniors they serve and the volunteers that make the wheels go. They need deliverers and packers on a regular basis. You can explore volunteer options with the link below!
If you have the funds, you can donate. MOWA accepts donations for a number of different projects to end hunger amongst seniors. You can donate funds directly to meals for seniors. Choose a one-time donation option or even signup for a reoccurring donation. MOWA is also building a new kitchen! They have acquired more space in the building and are now in the process of building out a new kitchen space. More than 10,000 square feet will be converted to a state-of-the-art commercial kitchen dedicated to the fight against senior hunger. Link to donate is below!
Need mobile accessible donation links? Those options are available!
Cash App: $MOWATL
You can shop MOWA, too! Purposeful Gourmet Foods is the for-profit arm of MOWA. They have plenty of apparel swag from hoodies and hats where all proceed go to providing meals. Their specialty, though, is the pecans. They come in two flavors – Cinnamon Star Anise and Sweet with Heat. I personally have devoured some cinnamon star anise pecans. They are delicious. Buy some with the link below!
Lastly, you can always drink Peach Coffee and know what’s in your cup contributes to organizations like Meals On Wheels Atlanta. Our goal is to better our communities. If we accomplish that by serving coffee, that is a win for the community. If we do that by spreading the word of great work done by extraordinary organizations, that is also a win for the community. Help us make a difference.
Own or manage a business? Love coffee? You can partner with us! Just email firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can start the conversation. Drink coffee with impact.