By Bonnie Mentel

Over the past 38 years, Meals on Wheels has been helping many people in the community.

“We serve anywhere between 240-280 meals each day in Brandon, Valrico and Seffner. Our borders extend to Williams Rd. on the North, Hwy. 301 on the West, Dover on the East and the Alafia River on the South,” said President Jim McNeil.

Most people receiving services from Meals on Wheels are between 75-85 years old. Their children, as well as hospice workers and social workers, usually contact Meals on Wheels when they want to refer someone for the program.

“I am one of the screeners. I go out and see if the people are really in need and if they qualify for Meals on Wheels. Our standards are that, if the person is homebound and has no one else in the house with them during the day, and if they are unable to cook for themselves; they will get a meal,” McNeil said.

“Currently in the greater Brandon area, we have a waiting list for recipients. There are 18 churches participating, but, there is a drastic need for Fridays. There are only two churches that serve on Friday. We would work with new churches and get them started and make sure they have a complete understanding of how things work,” McNeil said. There is also a need for churches to cook and distribute meals on Mondays.

Meals on Wheels is not funded by the government. It asks every recipient to make a donation of $2.50 per meal, but less than 40 percent of recipients are financially able to make a donation. No one is denied if they are unable to pay.

GFS Marketplace and Publix both donate groceries that have just reached their “sell by” date. Publix generally contributes bread and pastries.

“It really saves the church’s budget. Feeding 250-300 people each day takes a lot of money. The smaller churches need that help,” McNeil said.

McNeil noted that he is at Publix every Wednesday at 5:10 a.m. to collect donations. If other individuals or organizations are interested in donating food, supplies or monetary contributions, they are always appreciated. For more information on how to help, visit or contact McNeil at 653-2801.

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