Iowa athletes help deliver Meals on Wheels in Iowa City area

On average volunteers with Meals on Wheels of Johnson County help deliver ready-to-eat meals to older adults and people with disabilities.
Published: Oct. 29, 2023 at 11:02 PM CDT
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - On average volunteers with Meals on Wheels of Johnson County help deliver ready-to-eat meals to older adults and people with disabilities.

“The best thing that we can do is provide a quality meal that somebody would enjoy if they made it themselves or if they went to a restaurant,” Director of Community Health and Nutrition Melissa Wahl said.

They’ve seen a big increase in need for their services after adding more than 200 clients within the past year.

“We were over 1,600 clients last year. We served over 265,000 meals,” Wahl added.

The nonprofit’s Monday through Friday operation not only helps those in Johnson County, but also Linn and Washington.

“We could not do what we do without our volunteers,” Wahl said. “Each one of them are important and vital to the program.”

A client-favorite day is when University of Iowa athletes help with meal deliveries. It’s part of their partnership with the Swarm Collective that helps create opportunities for Iowa athletes to serve charities and nonprofits in Iowa.

“Most of our clients are in their 80′s. They live on $1,200-1,500 a month and they are homebound, so they don’t leave their homes very often. That outside world really is that TV screen. When you take them off the TV screen and put them in the homes of our clients, it’s magical,” Wahl said.

This week members of the Iowa men’s basketball and football team helped deliver meals along the 12 routes in the Iowa City area.

“People really appreciate what we do on a Saturday, but I feel like it’s just as important to get out in the community and make a change in the world and really just in general,” senior punter Tory Taylor said. “We all really enjoy doing it.”

It came at the perfect time for the Iowa football team who was on their bye week.

“I have my own bubble with the football team, but going out and meeting new people and doing this for them, it means a lot,” Sebastian Castro senior defensive back said.

“We have a lot of time and it feels good spending that time giving back to the community. When I was younger, it wasn’t always easy. I wish I had someone who could come spend time with us, especially athletes,” junior defensive back Jermari Harris said.

The Iowa athletes said they were happy to help.

“It feels good just to help out the community. We always want to help out the community in different ways and just doin small things like this has helped a lot of people. We’re just happy to be able to do that,” junior wide receiver Diante Vines said.

“Just to know we could make somebody’s day by delivering a meal during on our off time and being able to support the people who support us on and off the field. They probably watch us on the TV, they cheer for us, so just to show our appreciation, it feels good,” junior running back Leshon Williams said.