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Free Meals on Wheels Delano chapter feeds thousands

Delano volunteers gather every Monday morning at the Guadalupe Church to prepare and package hundreds of fresh meals to later be distributed to locals in need
Posted at 5:39 PM, Jun 04, 2024

DELANO, Calif. (KERO) — Roughly 30-40 volunteers play a role in the Free Meals on Wheels Delano chapter, ensuring that hundreds of people have access to fresh, healthy, and homemade meals daily.

  • The free Meals on Wheels program started right before the pandemic. Its creation was based on the idea of tackling food insecurity but also providing healthy meals. Since 2020, the nonprofit has had partnerships with the USDA, food banks, and navigation centers.
  • Since its opening, they’ve served roughly 1 million meals.
  • Roughly 30 to 40 Delano community members gather every Monday at the Guadalupe Church to cook and package hundreds of home cooked meals.

It all happens in the Guadalupe church kitchen. Hundreds of fresh meals are cooked weekly in an effort to tackle food insecurity. The free meals on wheels Delano chapter started 4 years ago and continues to expand.

"I had an idea of wanting to do a feed for my birthday so I asked chef how do I — if I want to feed 500 people and I want to make them tacos how do I calculate how much meat to buy,” said Board of Directors for Free Meals on Wheels Adolfo Briseno. “We cooked on my birthday and ever since then we've cooked every week and haven't looked back."

Briseno says after that first delivery he realized this was a passion he couldn't give up.

Cooking the first batch of meals in a backyard to now a fully furnished community kitchen, Briseno says they've been able to serve about 20-30 thousand meals throughout the Central Valley.

Growing up in Delano and seeing the continuous evolution of food insecurity, Briseno says this is a highly needed initiative for the community and has shown in past deliveries.

"When we opened the door, and delivered to this older gal you know she just broke down and started crying because she said she didn't have any food to eat that day so that made me feel like if we didn't come and bring her this food, she was going to sit in her apartment and not eat,” said Briseno.

The efforts in Delano is part of a much bigger project — the original free Meals on Wheels program started right before the pandemic in the silicone valley co-founded by Devinder Kumar.

"The demand escalated,” said Kumar. “We were cooking at one point 1,500 to 2,000 meals every time we would meet and since 2020 March we have done partnerships with the USDA, tons of food banks."

Kumar says they've partnered with the Delano Navigation Center and even makes trips to both Lost Hills and Bakersfield.

Delivered in a refrigerated van covered by the Wonderful Neighbor grant program, Briseno says he feels overwhelmed with joy knowing that they're providing not only homemade meals, but fresh ones.

"We're not going to be able to solve the full insecurity piece but being able to do it a person at a time just — it helps me to know that we're at least trying to do something rather than sitting at home not doing anything,” said Briseno.

Going forward, the goal is to expand efforts to feed the elderly population in the city. Delano's Free Meals on Wheels Program is always looking for more volunteers, for more information click here.

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