Human Interest
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It can be a difficult step to ask for assistance for those of us experiencing difficulties that prevent obtaining or cooking healthy meals.

The Sedona Community Center’s Meals on Wheels program makes the process easy. Misconceptions about the program’s scope and how it functions, however, have caused some confusion.
According to Meals on Wheels Sedona Coordinator Donna Newcomb, this has prevented the service from reaching as many people as it could.


“I’m certain that there are people who have lived here a very long time who don’t drive or who have difficulty cooking or obtaining good meals — those are people we’d like to help,” she said, adding that even physicians occasionally hold misconceptions about who is eligible and how meals are obtained.

“Local doctors, family, friends and neighbors oftentimes don’t know that meals on wheels is available and that they can be a part of the process of helping their loved one to get a cooked meal five days a week from us,” SCC Executive Director John Tamiazzo explained.

“Lots of people erroneously believe that the person needing meals has to first contact the government office in Flagstaff that helps fund the program, Northern Arizona Council of Governments.”

Newcomb added clarification, saying. “You don’t have to be associated with any organization whatsoever to be eligible. It can be temporary or long-term .... Call the community center and inquire. Usually with a 15-minute phone call, I can have them started the next day.”

The criteria are fairly simple to meet: A person must explain why they cannot either obtain or cook a nutritious meal to Newcomb. There is no referral process. Most people who receive Meals on Wheels service are over the age of 60, but anyone who is disabled or recovering from an accident or illness is eligible.

Income, Newcomb added, does not determine eligibility — and neither is the program a simple handout.

“That’s another misconception; that it’s a welfare system,” Newcomb said. “We do ask for a small contribution, but we would never deny someone food who needs it.”

SCC’s commercial kitchen currently delivers between 50 and 70 meals each day of the week to Sedona and the Village of Oak Creek, but Newcomb is confident her staff can handle more.

The food, she insisted, is excellent: A hot meal, prepared daily, with sides. The kitchen itself has received eight Golden Plate Awards from the Arizona Department of Health Services.

“National Meals On Wheels Association recognized us as one of the elite small Meals On Wheels programs. We have a great reputation.”

The SCC is located at 2615 Melody Lane. Staff can be reached at 282-2834 or sccsedona.org.

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