Every morning Monday through Friday, you can find Sara Ullman outside the back of The Orchid Kosher restaurant on Main Street in Metuchen taking packaged prepared frozen kosher meals outside of crates and organizing the meals into coolers for midday deliveries across 14 Middlesex County municipalities.
Along with organizing the meals leaving from Metuchen, Ullman makes sure a truck is loaded for deliveries leaving out of the Concordia Active Adult Community in Monroe.
Ullman, of East Brunswick, is the Kosher Meals on Wheels (KMOW) Coordinator for Jewish Family Services of Middlesex County (JFS) in Milltown.
On July 15, volunteers Sandra Kowalsky, of East Brunswick, Nathan Orgel, of Highland Park, and Stuart Tuchfeld, of Edison, came to pick up the packaged meals for their delivery routes.
KMOW is part of the senior services division, which serves seniors of all religions and faiths. Its mission is to provide support services for seniors who choose to remain in their homes – age in place – rather than move to a facility.
“We’re not here to advocate advantages and disadvantages [of aging in place] or make judgements,” Roni Salkin, executive director for JFS, said, adding the agency is there to provide a successful connection in the community for the people who do not want to leave their homes.
The Kosher Meals on Wheels is one of the longest running programs of Jewish Family Services of Middlesex County, which is celebrating 50 years this year. The program is also the only type of vendor for the county currently delivering approximately 550 meals each week to 85 clients.
KMOW generally serves approximately 150 clients in any given year. KMOW meals are Glatt Kosher under the kashrut supervision of Star K, which provides a kashrut certificate available for viewing.
With a dedicated pool of 100 drivers, the hot and/or cold kosher meals – available to Middlesex County seniors ages 60 and over – are delivered along 15 routes from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Salkin and Ullman said their volunteers are also seniors, some having served in leadership roles including past JFS board presidents.
Eighty percent of the people in the Kosher Meals on Wheels program are referred through adult children and serves as a gateway to other services JFS provides.
“Sara’s role is to give families peace of mind,” Salkin said. “The delivery of the meals may be the only person’s contact every day. The drivers establish relationships and social interactions. They are the eyes and ears if something is wrong.”
Also the KMOW may get referrals for people who are disabled and need their services. Special requests and substitute meals are available each day. Frozen weekend meals, which are delivered on Friday, are available upon request.
“We try to make accommodations,” Ullman said.
The meals are delivered Monday through Friday except for holidays.
The primary source of funding for KMOW are federal funds allocated under the Title 3 of the Older Americans Act. The federal funds are filtered down to the states and then to the municipalities and agencies who provide direct service to clients. The Middlesex County Office of Aging and Disabled Services administers the funds received to JFS.
The program also receives funds through the Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey, as well as through private donations.
Salkin and Ullman said they are always looking for more donations and volunteers. For more information call Jewish Family Services of Middlesex County at 732-777-1940.