Meals on Wheels of Takoma Park/Silver Spring has marked its 50th anniversary, adding vegetarian meal options for its area clients.
The organization began hearing of the demand from its clients, who are homebound neighbors regardless of their age or income level, and have added the menu items to meet those needs.
For example, one week’s five vegetarian hot entrees were eggplant parmesan, Asian tamari green beans with almonds, rainbow chard frittata, chickpeas with feta, lemon, and parsley, and a tofu curry.
“Our program is already known for its excellent meals prepared with love by our skilled head cook Nancia Sical,” Executive Director Ruth Masterson said in a press release.
“We’ve been eager to add a vegetarian option for a long time, but just haven’t had the capacity. We’re just so delighted to make it happen as part of our 50th anniversary.”
The organization also added a second cook, Justin Taft-Morales, who specializes in Mexican, Indian, Asian, and Italian cuisines, creating curries from around the globe, eggplant dishes, various types of stuffed peppers, and his favorite veggie: beets.
“I have been a vegetarian since I was a kid, so I am sympathetic to those who don’t get a vegetarian option elsewhere,” Taft-Morales said.
“I’m excited to be providing this to our clients so there’s as much variety and options as possible, given our capacity. My main guiding factors are keeping a nice variety of protein sources because a vegetarian menu can often lose variety.”
The organization received seed funding from the Health Initiative Foundation, a special COVID-Relief grant through Meals on Wheels America, and local community donors.
Also slated for the program’s 50th anniversary year is a renovation of its space with an eye towards welcoming new clients to the program, according to the release.
In 2020, Meals on Wheels of Takoma Park/Silver Spring’s kitchen, staffed by one cook and between four and ten volunteers each day, prepared 42,575 meals, which were delivered to 212 clients by volunteer deliverers covering ten routes.
This year, the nonprofit is on track to deliver 50,000 meals by the close of 2021, including a hot and a cold meal five days a week.