East Cooper Meals on Wheels is a caritas grantee that supports homebound seniors, disabled and ill residents seeking to live independently at home in dignity and with the security of not having to fear hunger, malnutrition and isolation.

ECMOW provides home delivered meals and other nutrition to those who cannot provide for themselves with the support of volunteers who bring friendship, social interaction and a daily safety check.  ECMOW partners and collaborates to assure that the modest homes of these recipients are safe, comfortable and adequate.

Short-term meal assistance is provided to those residents returning home alone from a hospital or rehab to assure that they receive adequate nutrition for as long as it takes for these residents to regain health.  ECMOW charges no fees and has no waiting list, serving all who cannot care for themselves regardless of age or income.

Here are two stories of ECMOW’s dedication to helping others:

Five New Healthy Meals

With the help of two MUSC Dietetic students who are currently interning with Lowcountry Food Bank, ECMOW now has five new healthy meal menus to provide to our recipients. Danielle and Teresa are the first class to intern with Lowcountry Food Bank. Through this internship they have learned about keeping costs low and balancing nutrients at the same time. Each meals needs to be between 600-800 calories and meet 10 of the 14 targeted nutrients needed for seniors and those recovering from surgery or illness. These meals were created to be light comfort foods. They have worked very closely with Chef Kim, from Lowcountry Food Bank, to develop healthy versions of Tuscan Sloppy Joes with Spring Peas and Cinnamon Apples, Hawaiian Pork Tenderloin with Asian Rice and Stir Fry Vegetables, Tex-Mex Chicken and Mushroom Tacos, Warmed Black Bean and Corn Salad with Jalapenos Cheesy Rice, Eggplant Parmesan with White beans and Florentine Green Beans and Baked Cod Al Fresco with Spanish Rice and Roasted Vegetables.

Danielle and Teresa started the process of creating these meals by first deciding what meats they wanted to use. They initially came up with about 40 meal ideas. Chef Kim helped them narrow down those ideas and also helped to balance the meals and make them simple and easy to prepare. For these particular meals they had to take into consideration the nutrients that are needed by seniors and those individuals recovering from illness or injury. These meals also had to be flavorful and still taste wonderful when heated again the next day.

After learning about production and preparation from Lowcountry Food Bank, Danielle and Teresa were able to watch the packing process that happens here and also accompany one of our volunteers on a delivery. This really allowed them to meet the individuals that their meals were created for. During the ride along, they were able to meet our everyday recipients and also our Blue Apron meal recipients who are recovering transplant patients. According to Danielle, she “loved delivering, it really put a face on the project and the end game.”

Dennis-BAM 2Nutritional Road to Recovery

Dennis received a liver transplant at MUSC on September 8, 2016. This was a major surgery replacing the second largest organ in the human body and taking over 7 hours to complete. With tears in his eyes, Dennis said, “the amazing thing is when you wake up in the hospital afterwards, you wake up in ICU and see all the staples. I had this feeling come over me and I cried because all I could think about was that someone had to give their life so mine could continue. And I can’t imagine how their family feels right now. I hope that they know it went to a good person and I’m thankful for what they gave to me.”

Dennis and his wife, Denise, traveled from Murrells Inlet for the surgery. Their daughter, Jen, came down from Baltimore, Maryland to be with her father. Going on his third week recovering in a hotel after being released from the hospital, Dennis said he is “three days past stir crazy.” Along with helping the family find a hotel for Dennis to recover in, his social worker at MUSC also told them about East Cooper Meals on Wheels and the Blue Apron Meals program for patients. Dennis and his family had no idea that this service was available to him. These Blue Apron Meals are designed to give those recovering from illness or surgery the nutrients they need for their bodies to heal. The service is available to patients regardless of age or income.  Jen was grateful that the service was available to her father. She said, “It’s great that the food is geared towards him with low-salt and it’s good for him.” Denise agrees that having the delivery of healthy meals to their hotel is “helpful when you have labs to go to and doctor appointment after doctor appointment.” Each meal is between 600-800 calories and meets 10 of the 14 targeted nutrients needed for a successful recovery. These nutrients include; protein, fiber, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin B6, vitamin D and vitamin B12.

By delivering Blue Apron Meals to patients free of charge, East Cooper Meals on Wheels aims to assist patients on their road to recovery. Proper nutrition is a key component of improving overall health and reducing hospital readmissions rates. Nutritional meals are delivered to patient’s hotels within East Cooper Meals on Wheels’ primary service area of Mount Pleasant, Cainhoy/Wando, Daniel Island, Isle of Palms, Sullivan’s Island and also to those who choose to stay at other Charleston area hotels that have special agreements with local hospitals. This allows patients to focus on recovery and spending time with their loved ones. It also eliminates the burden on the patient or their family of finding a way to prepare a healthy meal in their hotel.

Dennis is ready to head back to Murrells Inlet, with his wife, once his doctors clear him, but in the meantime, he is very grateful for MUSC and East Cooper Meals on Wheels saying, “I can’t thank you all