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Meals are a Big Deal at FSS

At Fayette Senior Services, volunteers deliver more than food - a friendly face and good conversation come with every meal.

From a humble start in a tiny little house to a beautiful 2,250 square foot facility, Fayette Senior Services has been providing much-needed services to seniors in Fayette County for 42 years. The non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization helps older adults preserve their independence, improve their quality of life and keep them connected to the community. While there are many programs offered at both the Life Enrichment Center in Fayetteville and The Gathering Place in Peachtree City, the program that stands on its own in the way of significance and impact is Meals on Wheels. For more than four decades meals have been making their way into the homes of local seniors 60 and better.

Delivering meals to 160-178 seniors every Monday through Friday - along 15 different routes covering the entire county - is no small feat. President & CEO Nancy Meaders confirms that "as long as you live in Fayette County, we'll get you the meal." Fayette Senior Services is supported by a staff of 150-170 volunteers who solely support Meals on Wheels. The volunteer drivers use their own vehicles and resources to deliver meals to a most appreciative and expectant population. Many of these beautiful souls have been volunteering with Fayette Senior Services for years. They tell Nancy "they just love what they do."

While volunteer drivers use their own vehicles for the Meals on Wheels program, Fayette Senior Services employees drive the impressive fleet of commercially wrapped vehicles to assist and help Fayette County seniors get to their doctor's appointments and other non-emergency medical appointments.

Every weekday morning, Open Hand Atlanta delivers pre-packaged meals to Fayette Senior Services. The menu's 5-week rotation provides a variety of meals. Each frozen meal - which can be heated in the microwave - includes a meat entrée, two vegetable sides, a dinner roll, dessert, and milk. Volunteers pack the flash-frozen food into coolers labeled by route, and get them ready for delivery by the time the first volunteer arrives for pickup.

Most Meals on Wheels clients receive daily meals which Fayette Senior Services prefers. As the volunteers are the organization's eyes and ears in the field, daily meal delivery provides an opportunity for a visual check on everyone they deliver to. If a volunteer sees anything wrong, they immediately call Fayette Senior Services and a case manager handles the matter from there.

Clients of Meals on Wheels are taken through a short assessment process and determined to be less-active or homebound, and unable to prepare nutritious meals due to physical, mental or financial challenges. These clients receive a meal everyday at lunch time. Dialysis patients for example, are not typically home everyday at lunch time so they receive all of their meals once weekly. Oftentimes it is determined that these clients need other services as well. Transportation to medical appointments is the need FSS sees most often.

For many homebound seniors, having a pet is a source of companionship and comfort. Often, hunger can become a mutual affliction, especially when leaving the house is not an option. Unfortunately, there are times when seniors may find it difficult to provide food for their pets and some will make the decision to forego their own meal so their pets can eat. Fortunately, Fayette Senior Services offers the Ani-Meals program which is designed to provide a little help with the cost of pet food, and lessen the burden of maintaining that important bond between pet owner and pet.

Among the list of social services offered through Fayette Senior Services is a congregate meal program for members who no longer drive. They receive transportation to the Life Enrichment Center where they have the opportunity to meet new and old friends, engage in recreational activities, and health and wellness classes while having a delicious and nutritious meal. The 60 and better members of this program were not fond of the name "congregate meal program" so they chose to rename themselves STAR - Seniors Together After Retirement.

The life enrichment services offered at the Fayetteville location are made available from money that Fayette Senior Services raises itself for members 50 and up. The Gathering Place is owned by the city of Peachtree City and contracts with Fayette Senior Services to provide their recreational services. All of the social services offered by the organization - funded in part by federal, state and local government - are generated out of the bustling Life Enrichment Center where two case managers handle all the social service clients. This is also where the Meals on Wheels program is operated from, and where The Ultimate Café has made a name for itself.

When county residents turn 50 and choose to become members of Fayette Senior Services, they have the added benefit of particpating in activities and events at both locations.  Month to month, Fayette Senior Services offers 170 different programs to keep the level and variety of activities and social engagement at its best. There's sure to be something for everyone.

Fayette Senior Services' efforts are made possible by the generosity of the community they serve. If you are interested in providing support to this worthwhile organization, visit them at www.fayss.org.

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