Pledge to bring seniors to the table, and you can help Meals on Wheels


Meatballs with lots of pasta, ground red pepper flakes, salad and warm bread were on the menu when Tara Todd would get together weekly with her extended family.

"The kids would play, the adults would chat, and cleanup involved the grandkids doing dishes and putting everything away. If you left hungry, it was your own fault," said Todd.

While Todd doesn't get together like that every week anymore, she remembers the dinners fondly and attributes the infrequency now to busy schedules and the passing of her grandfather. Her grandmother is now in her 90s, and those once-easy dinners are now a lot more labor-intensive.

A comeback: Doug Hevner, owner of the local Home Instead Senior Care office, is on a mission to see those types of family gatherings return.

"For seniors, it's not what's on their plate that matters most at mealtime — it's who is at the table with them," said Hevner.

To encourage families to make time for those meals, the Home Instead Senior Care Foundation will donate $1 to Meals on Wheels America for each person who commits to regularly scheduling family dinners and signs up at the website

"We hope families will make the pledge to either revive or begin new mealtime traditions with their senior loved ones," Hevner said. "This small commitment can have a big impact on a senior's well-being."

Tana Kling agrees with Hevner.

"Every Sunday, we have dinner with my mom, her brothers and all of their children," she said. "Some weekends are full of people and others are not."

Kling attributes the light attendance to sporting and work activities. "I believe it's wrong to have (sports) practices and such on Sundays, because it should be set aside for families and time to relax and enjoy life." Kling hopes to carry on the family dinner tradition when her mother can no longer host.

More information about the Sunday Dinner Pledge — including recipes from celebrity chef and mother of four Melissa d'Arabian, pre- and post-dinner activities and how to involve seniors in meal planning and preparation — can be found by visiting or calling Home Instead Senior Care at 717-741-9999.