Building Community to Weather Tough Times | Meals on Wheels People

Building Community to Weather Tough Times

Bank of America

Portland Monthly  |  By Ben McBee 7/17/2020 at 10:08am

Every day across the Portland-Vancouver area, the well-being of thousands of seniors depends on the vital nutrition and human interaction delivered by Meals on Wheels People. The nonprofit, in turn, draws on a support network of volunteers and partnerships whose strength has been unwavering, despite the new economic and social devastation wrought by the coronavirus pandemic.

Last year, Bank of America helped Meals on Wheels People establish an innovative dining and social experience for seniors with The Diner Vancouver. During the turbulent early months of the pandemic, Bank of America continued its support with another generous contribution that funded 6,750 meals for seniors in Oregon and Southwest Washington, putting food on their table while taking worry off their plate.

The company’s long-term relationship with Meals on Wheels People is forged in the understanding that it’s the people who make where we live so special, and that the virtue of any community can be measured by how well we care for those most in need. In 2019, through their collaboration, the concept for The Diner Vancouver became a reality—a landmark achievement in the fight against hunger and loneliness.

The Diner Ribbon Cutting

The Diner ribbon cutting ceremony with the Vancouver Chamber of Commerce

Bank of America awarded Meals on Wheels People its annual Neighborhood Builders grant, a gift of $200,000 that was instrumental in completing the nonprofit’s innovative, mission-driven restaurant venture. The classic 1950s-style diner, which opened its doors in February 2019, introduced a first-of-its-kind model to provide a welcoming place for seniors (and the public) to gather with friends and family, where they can enjoy delicious meals made from locally sourced ingredients.

“This is a new approach that hasn’t been done before within the Meals on Wheels People organization. In the Portland-Vancouver area, we’re both an entrepreneurial and a philanthropic community. This project is addressing an identified community need in a creative and innovative way,” says Roger Hinshaw, Bank of America’s market president for Oregon and Southwest Washington. “This unique project is an example of the impactful programs and solutions that address local community needs that our Neighborhood Builders program seeks to support.”

Customers aged 60 and older who are registered with Meals on Wheels People have access to a special menu designed with Older American Act dietary guidelines in mind. Those meals are available on a donation basis, while regular paying customers help to fund the nonprofit’s efforts to reach more rural communities.

Roger and Suzanne

Roger Hinshaw, Bank of America Market President OR and WA, and Suzanne Washington, Meals on Wheels People CEO

Though the Neighborhood Builders program has been active for over a decade in Portland, this was the first instance of the funds being allocated to a project in Clark County. Not only did Bank of America offer Meals on Wheels People their financial backing, but they also presented important leadership training, volunteer support, and connections to peer organizations throughout the country.

But, unfortunately, a lot has changed in the last year and a half. Additional dining choices and socialization opportunities for seniors were The Diner Vancouver’s key elements; right now, coronavirus makes it risky to simply come together and enjoy the comfort of food with our loved ones. The strong and nimble partnership between Bank of America and Meals on Wheels People has helped The Diner Vancouver adapt to these new challenges with another grant that delivered thousands more meals to seniors in Oregon and Southwest Washington. The eatery is still open for takeout, persisting in the face of adversity to ensure that no seniors in need fall through the cracks. Though no one expected this sort of challenge, Bank of America’s investment is helping the community weather this storm, one meal at a time.

If you want to join Bank of America in supporting Meals on Wheels People, you can order takeout from The Diner or visit their website.

Read about their contributions in a recent story in Portland Monthly here.

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