LAKE PLACID - Don't confuse Meals on Wheels volunteers with typical pizza delivery drivers.
Meals on Wheels drivers do more than drop off food and race off to the next customer; they deliver hot food to the homebound, and as regular visitors, they socialize while providing a safety net for older residents.
If a client fails to answer the door without notice, phone calls are made to check on his or her health.
For many who receive the home delivered hot meals, the person who brings the food and sticks around to chat might be the only outside contact for a day.
On Monday, Lake Placid drivers stopped making the long trek to Sebring to pick up prepared meals, and instead, the food is now prepared at the new health care center, Windsor Lakeside Village.
Maxine and Orie Vandermark were married more than 71 years ago. Maxine was eating a delivered meal of beef, carrots, salad and an apple, while her husband chatted with Meals on Wheels volunteers. Maxine often saves a portion of her dinner for later that evening.
She called the home-delivered Meals on Wheels service a "lifesaver," while her husband Orie kidded and said the situation could be different.
"She's trying to be polite," Orie Vandermark quipped. "(I'm) not too good of a cook."
Richard and Linda Trumble of Lake Placid deliver meals on Wednesdays and are two of seven members of the Lake Placid Elks Lodge. The husband/wife team works almost two hours a shift, traveling about 40 miles, and paying for their own gas and vehicle upkeep.
The couple also surprises clients with citrus from their backyard. Linda is the talker, while Richard, a former code enforcement officer and police officer, does the driving and organizing. He often returns later to help as a free handyman.
Meals cost $3.75 per day and grants pay for those who cannot afford to pay. Fifteen drivers share weekday deliveries. The service was established in Sebring for the county in 2003, and the Lake Placid drivers took over Monday with about 40 clients.
"Some are just getting out of the hospital and can't take care of themselves," said Jim Browning, program director. "Others call us, and we can start as soon as the next day."
Browning and his mother, Jean Sauve, said volunteers also provide peace of mind by keeping in touch with children of clients.
Driver Jerry Stahr of Lake Placid enjoys the human contact with clients.
"We make every effort to get a sense of how they're feeling and how their day is going," said Stahr.
Lilly Holms is the food service director at Windsor Lakeside Village. She prepares healthy meals from fresh ingredients with local produce, fresh herbs and seasonal vegetables. Meals can vary and diabetics get their own special servings.
"Old age is revered where I come from in Portugal," said Holms. "We feed them what we'd want to eat ourselves. Food just doesn't nourish the body, it nourishes the spirit."
If you are interested in volunteering, donating or need food call 863-465-4287.