Meals of Joy, a Litchfield Park-based nonprofit, provides hot, fresh, nutritious meals to seniors across the West Valley.
Larry Cervarich, the organization’s founder, said Meals of Joy offers much more than just food.
“We do a wellness check while they’re there,” he said. "Are they okay? Do they need some help? We've had some cases where they haven't come to the door.”
In the past, volunteers have called next of kin to check on their clients, in some cases, they’ve saved the lives of their clients.
“We’ve had veterans that lost their limbs,” he said. “One Friday, the caseworker went to the hospital, and the veteran laid in bed for three days without help. No phone nearby. No water, no nothing until our volunteer came on Monday morning. He laid there for three days. So, it kind of tells you the value of what we do is more than a meal.”
Cervarich said countless other clients simply no longer have the strength to prepare nutritious meals for themselves, because of their age or perhaps their disability status.
“There's all kinds of food kits, you can get so much and they deliver to your door. Most cases, they're kits, they have to prepare that,” he said. “A lot of our seniors, some of them, they can't even stand to prepare a meal long enough, or they’re in a wheelchair or they're in a walker, and they can't do that.”
Sometimes, Cerarich’s clients will open the door with a fork in their hand, eager to eat.
Meals of Joy delivers hundreds of weekly meals to seniors in Litchfield Park, Goodyear, Avondale, Buckeye, Sun City, Surprise, Sun City Grand, Sun City West, Peoria and Glendale.
They operate a subscription service that sends meals to seniors at cost. Some seniors recently discharged from the hospital or who are below the poverty line receive free meals thanks to in-kind donations from cities and organizations like the West Valley Mavericks.
Meals of Joy also heavily relies on 60 or so volunteers as drivers who deliver meals to the seniors in the north and south parts of the valley.
The service recently started a senior social luncheon program that gets seniors out of their homes to meet other seniors. Their first event gathered 70 clients for food and entertainment at Desert Palms Presbyterian Church in Sun City.
“We're very excited as we're moving forward,” Cervarich said. “It's been a great experience for me. And what I like about it is -- having the knowledge of some of the competitive world -- I think we're doing a good thing for the seniors.”
Individuals interested in signing up for meals, volunteering or donating to Meals of Joy can visit their website at mealsofjoy.org or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.