Meals on Wheels delivering healthy food and health care in Phoenix area

Meals on Wheels delivering healthy food and health care in Phoenix area

PHOENIX (AZFamily) — When Randy Dietrich delivers meals on his route, he spends a few extra minutes on the doorstep.

“You look forward to seeing him more than the food,” laughed Brenda, a Meals on Wheels recipient. “It’s because he cares.”

Dietrich is now in his 16th year volunteering with the organization led by the Tempe Community Action Agency.

“When we hear of Meals on Wheels, we typically think of food and nutrition. But it’s also the touching base and the wellness checks every day,” said Paula Hardy of Tempe Community Action Agency.

Volunteers are taught to look for signs of distress or illness. And they’ve unfortunately seen heat-related tragedies happen on their routes.

“They found (a man) had passed away in his mobile home and it was really hot in there when they finally opened the door,” he said.

In fact, just this year, Gov. Katie Hobbs signed a bill requiring mobile home communities and their landlords to permit residents to use window air conditioning units if necessary. Homeowner associations often prohibit this for aesthetic reasons.

The governor is hopeful this will prevent unnecessary heat-related deaths.

“I think of all the individuals that I’ve met and some of them become friends. You get to know them very well,” Dietrich said.

So, though they’re not medical professionals or an emergency response group, they really are a lifeline for those most at risk in this heat.

“You sweat a little more this time of year and that’s normal,” laughed Dietrich.

The group is always welcoming new volunteers.

To help out in the East Valley, contact the Tempe Community Action Agency.

In the West Valley, you can reach out to the YWCA.

See a spelling or grammatical error in our story? Please click here to report it.

Do you have a photo or video of a breaking news story? Send it to us here with a brief description.