Meals on Wheels volunteer Kelly, left, delivers food and a fan to Judith in preparation for a heat wave that could bring record temperatures to the Salem area.

With record-breaking temperatures expected in the mid-Willamette Valley this weekend, Meals on Wheels is working to ensure that some of our most vulnerable neighbors are equipped to weather the heat. 

This week, volunteer drivers brought fans and spray bottles to seniors who need help staying cool during the coming heat wave. Because seniors and people with disabilities are at greater risk of suffering from heat-related illnesses, it is vital to ensure our vulnerable neighbors without access to air conditioning are equipped to endure the heat in their homes. 

For seniors like Judith, having a fan to help cool the Salem apartment she shares with her daughter and granddaughter will make the coming days much more tolerable.  

Judith gestures toward her kitchen, where she plans to keep the fan. “It’s going to go right in here where I have to eat, because it’s so hot!” she says.  

Because the apartment lacks the space for a dining table, Judith eats her meals at the kitchen counter. 

“It’s a wonderful gift for us that we can keep cool, and cook and eat in our kitchen,” she says.

Volunteer driver Kelly carries fans for Meals on Wheels clients before starting a delivery route Friday.

In anticipation of the heat wave, Meals on Wheels staff asked volunteers earlier in the week to check with the clients on their routes to make sure they were aware of the forecast and had the resources to stay safe. Fortunately, most clients knew about the coming heat and had a plan to help stay cool. For those that didn’t, Meals on Wheels staff followed up to gather more information and find out what type of fan would work best in their home. 

In total, over 50 fans – 36 purchased by Meals on Wheels, and another 18 bought and donated by volunteers – were made available to local senior citizens in need. For those that needed them, extension cords were also provided.  

Judith’s fan was delivered by Kelly, a retired teacher who began volunteering to continue giving back to the community. She delivered two fans on Friday as part of her regular meal delivery route. 

“The other fan that I’m delivering, that woman really needs it,” Kelly says. “She lives in a tiny little apartment that is dark and there’s not a lot of ventilation, so I was glad to see her name on the list.” 

For homebound seniors, receiving Meals on Wheels is more than just a meal – it’s a lifeline. One in four seniors lives in isolation, and the Meals on Wheels program supports vulnerable seniors with not only nutritious food, but friendly visits and safety checks that promote health, independence and social well-being. 

If you are interested in volunteering as a Meals on Wheels driver or receiving home meal delivery, please visit https://marionpolkfoodshare.org/programs/meals-on-wheels/ for more information.