The Memorial Hospital of Union County will expand its Mobile Meals program next month to cover every day of the week.

The Memorial Hospital of Union County will expand its Mobile Meals program next month to cover every day of the week.

The hospital's current Mobile Meals program provides hot lunches five days a week to participating seniors, according to public relations and development specialist Stephanie Lantz. In September, the program will grow to include two additional lunches - one for each day of the weekend.

"The current Mobile Meals program is carried out by 125 volunteers hand-delivering hot, nutritious lunches to participants on weekdays," Lantz said. "Participants in the new weekend meals program can expect to receive two frozen meals with the delivery of a hot lunch later in the week. Once delivered, participants can easily prepare the meals in the microwave or oven to be consumed as a hot lunch on each day of the weekend."

The program is intended to meet more than just nutritional needs, according to Marilyn Hassinger, director of food and nutrition services at Memorial Hospital.

"Our goal is not just to deliver food," Hassinger said. "Equally important is our goal that the food be consumed. We focus on meeting the needs of our participants, including the modification of meals to fit their preferences or dietary restrictions.

"Restructuring the program to include additional meals is simply an extension of this," she said. "The need is present and we're working with Union County Senior Services to make it happen, so we can serve as many seniors as possible."

The additional meals will be completely funded by the Union County Senior Services sales tax passed in 2008, Lantz said.

"The program could not have grown without this support, since the funding from a Title III federal subsidy and client donations is not enough to cover the costs of the program," Lantz said. "With Memorial Hospital being capped on the amount of federal subsidy it can receive for the program, Union County Senior Services stepped in to provide this much-needed service for residents."

About 330 seniors in the county receive meals through the program. While the majority of them have their meals delivered, about 100 are served each weekday through Community Meals, which offers group lunches at four different locations throughout the county, according to Lantz.

"Volunteers also serve another important purpose; a regular check-in with each homebound senior to make sure they are doing well," Lantz said. "To ensure that all participating seniors' physical and emotional needs are met, a registered nurse oversees the program, regularly assessing each participant's well-being and routinely conducting in-home visits."

Information on joining the Mobile Meals program can be obtained by calling 937-578-2445. Those interesting in volunteering for the program can learn more by calling 937-578-2360.