Desert heat a concern for Meals On Wheels program

Hydrating foods being delivered to seniors

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - In the severe heat the desert is experiencing, the Mizell Senior Center in Palm Springs is looking out for the well-being of its Meals On Wheels clients.

Robert Ochoa is one of seven delivery drivers the senior center uses for food delivery to homebound seniors.

Since sometimes he is the only person his clients see in a given day, part of his job is to make sure his clients aren't having any health issues.  This time of year, with temperatures in the triple digits, dehydration is a big concern.

"If I see anything out of the ordinary I will remind them to drink water and stay healthy, and ask questions and if everything is OK, if everything sounds fine, I am on my way to the next client," said Ochoa.

Jack Newby, the senior center's director of development, says the Meals On Wheels program tries to educate seniors about the best kind of food to consume
this time of year.  Recommendations that are reflected in the food seniors see at their door.

"Some of the things we include in our meals are high water content foods like lettuce or jello or corn, those sorts of things to make sure they get hydrated through things other than drinking water," said Newby.

The care in delivering the right foods to combat the heat has not gone unnoticed by 83-year-old Indio resident Harold Herschberger.

"I realize they know what we need, and they're giving it to us, and that is what I am excited about," said Herschberger.

And let's not forget about the drivers.  They have to deal with the intense heat.  Ochoa told us in the course of a seven to eight-hour shift, he finds himself getting in and out of his vehicle some 70 times in order to deliver meals to his clients.

"I keep hydrated.  I have Gatorade in the vehicle.  Gatorade and a lot of water," he said.  Robert Ochoa is following his own advice.

The Mizell Senior Center Meals On Wheels program serves more than 400 meals a day to homebound seniors throughout the Coachella Valley.

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