Meals on Wheels of Odessa and Junior League launch Silver Pantry

Meals on Wheels of Odessa Executive Director Craig Stoker cuts the ribbon to launch the Silver Pantry Thursday, May 9, 2024, at Meals on Wheels of Odessa. (Michael Bauer|Odessa American)

Meals on Wheels of Odessa, in partnership with the Junior League of Odessa, recently announced the launch of a new Silver Pantry, an exclusive resource for Meals on Wheels of Odessa clients.

The launch took place with a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday at the Meals on Wheels of Odessa location.

The Silver Pantry will serve clients who are enrolled to receive services from Meals on Wheels of Odessa and will be stocked with the help of H-E-B.

Products available to clients will include H-E-B branded adult nutritional drinks, incontinence supplies, oral hygiene supplies, and home cleaning supplies.

“The new Silver Pantry is extremely important for our clients because we’ve always been receiving requests for things like nutritional drinks and it’s not sustainable to go out and buy them one off so the League approached us about what kind of a project that we can do,” Meals on Wheels of Odessa Executive Director Craig Stoker said. “The idea came from the Pink Pantry that the Junior League of Odessa does with middle and high schools. … The ability to provide these kinds of supplies for our clients is one of those things that they may not know that they need but once it’s available, these are something that we can provide that’ll help extend their budget. It can help them stock their own pantries with food that they need to sustain themselves.”

Stoker said that the program is designed to help clients who have immediate needs such as needing supplemental nutritional drinks.

For example, Abbott Nutrition, the maker of Ensure, has a program to cover the cost of their Ensure line of products but the application is not simple and requires a doctor to sign off.

The Silver Pantry helps allow Meals on Wheels of Odessa’s clients to receive products while the paperwork is completed.

“The hoops you have to jump through though are a lot,” Stoker said. “The goal with the Silver Pantry is to provide the product in the meantime, while people are getting their paperwork filled out. This isn’t intended to be a ‘you get the product for free forever.’”

Stoker talked about how Meals on Wheels of Odessa has done more than just provide a hot meal to its clients.

“One of the things that we found during the transition was an old pamphlet talking about Meals on Wheels and one of the lines in there talked about how Meals on Wheels is more than just a meal and we really took that to heart,” Stoker said. “Not only are we providing a daily hot meal for our clients but we’re showing up with a friendly smile. We’re a wellness check to make sure our folks are healthy and having the things that they need. We can go beyond just delivering the meals. We want to make sure they can continue living in their homes, safely and independently as long as possible, we can continue to keep them living out of assisted living or nursing home facilities…. Going back to money and support, those things are very expensive. People want to stay in their homes. We can help families maintain their finances by keeping their older loved ones in their homes. These little things go a long way in sustaining these individuals’ independency.”

Junior League of Odessa president Mallory Langford talked about how the partnership with Meals on Wheels of Odessa came about.

“We saw a need in the community to help older Odessans,” Langford said. “We’re always looking for ways to partner with existing organizations rather than starting an initiative on our own. We found that’s a more consistent way of impacting the community.”

For more information on Meals on Wheels of Odessa or the Silver Pantry, go to