When Harrisburg seniors Kathleen Davis and her husband, Sperry Davis, each broke a hip last year, they turned to Cabarrus Meals on Wheels for help.
The local nonprofit organization has delivered daily meals to the couple's home for the last eight months. Last Wednesday, as part of its sixth annual Mayors and Others For Meals Day, Concord, Harrisburg and Kannapolis mayors and two county commissioners helped deliver nearly 400 meals to Cabarrus-area seniors.
Harrisburg mayor Tim Hagler, a five-year participant, delivered two sets of pre-packed meals to the Davis couple. His late aunt, Odessa Gray, was a recipient of Cabarrus Meals on Wheels along the Mount Pleasant route, which was part of the reason he got involved.
"There's a huge need," said Hagler. "And to know there are people that would go without a meal without Cabarrus Meals On Wheels is just heartbreaking. But to have a chance to share and be shared with, to listen to their stories and to know they appreciate you, is a blessing in itself. It makes you feel good."
In 2006, Meals On Wheels Association of America's introduced Mayors For Meals, a component of the March For Meals campaign, which raises national awareness about senior hunger. Each March, elected officials across the country take part.
Concord mayor Scott Padgett and Kannapolis mayor Bob Misenheimer have participated since the program began. Longtime Cabarrus County commissioner Jay White participated this year, as did the county's youngest commissioner, Chris Measmer, 23, a Concord native.
"It's just good to be involved in a community and give back to a community that's been so good to me," said Measmer.
Hagler and his veteran delivery driver, Don Graham, helped deliver about 20 meals last week. Graham and his wife, Barbara, have been Harrisburg residents since 1975 and have helped deliver meals for about 25 years.
"They need it," said Don, who started delivering after he retired in 1997. "I might need it one of these days, too. But it's really not that much trouble. My wife's been doing it at least 10 years longer than me."
Last year, about 700 volunteers delivered 85,000 pre-packaged meals to 390 elderly, disabled or homebound residents on 25 routes throughout Cabarrus County. The nonprofit organization is almost 40 years old.
Eligible individuals must be homebound for medical reasons, unable to attend a congregate meal program and not be receiving a well-balanced hot meal daily. Individuals who cannot get out on a daily basis to get meals will be scrutinized on a case-by-case basis.
Menu items include meals for regular and modified diets and rotate on a 15-meal cycle. Clients are charged for the meals on a sliding scale according to their ability to pay. More than 80 percent of clients pay less than half the cost of the meal.
Cabarrus Meals on Wheels is funded by grants, fundraisers, client fees, donations, United Way and corporate donations.
"We don't get around much, and it's progressing to where we need even more help," said Sperry Davis. "Cabarrus Meals On Wheels is an ideal situation. They supply a week's worth of food at a cost compatible with the income level and need of the people receiving it."