The community-based nutrition program started out 38 years ago with daily meals for seniors. But not many people realize that Albuquerque Meals on Wheels isn’t only for seniors. Anyone who needs the services of AMOW can apply to the program. It presently serves clients from 27 to 104 years of age.
Executive Director Samantha Blauwkamp develops new programs to create sustainable funding for the organization. AMOW Catering has been in operation for two years, and in 2009 it catered more than 200 events for organizations like the Albuquerque Youth Symphony. Catered menus range from breakfast burritos to four-course gourmet dinners.
I arrive at AMOW's Presbyterian Northside location where Blauwkamp has invited me on a tour of their facilities. Presbyterian Healthcare Services is a generous supporter of AMOW and provides the business offices, commercial kitchen, deli and dining room for only $1 a year. We start in the kitchen, where staff and volunteers begin their day. Executive Chef Greg Archuleta oversees the meal plan and the catering. There are stacks of hot bags and ice chests lining the walls. Nearby, a half-dozen workers surround steam trays filled with portions of the day’s meals. They hand out containers, filling each one with a meal that suits the client’s dietary needs. The program offers a choice of seven plans to meet the medical requirements of their clients. When they close down around 10 a.m. they will have prepared more than 540 meals. They’ll be delivered throughout Bernalillo and Sandoval counties by no later than 1 p.m. that same morning. Since the food is prepared and delivered fresh daily, I ask what happens to leftovers. Blauwkamp tells me there aren’t much. Any meals beyond those needed that day are put in the frozen meal program in microwavable containers. Actual waste amounts to no more than 2 percent.
Blauwkamp takes me to AMOW’s Northside Deli and spacious dining room. Deli Chef Scott Meacham has 30 years in the restaurant trade. He prepares my breakfast: eggs over easy and hash-browns smothered in green chile—very tasty. The deli serves breakfast and lunch and is open to the public from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. daily. Northside Deli also contributes to AMOW’s sustainable funding effort.
In addition to the purchased meal program, AMOW provides a Low Income Medical Meal Program free to those living below the poverty level and who require a special diet. There is a long waiting list. Funding for this program comes from grants and donations.
Much depends on the great volunteers who make the program a success. There are more than 400 volunteers who assist with food preparation, administration and deliveries. There is always a need for volunteers—