Local restaurant steps up to sustain Meals on Wheels program

Reva Kirby, owner of Kirley’s Family Dining restaurant in Ontario, prepares a meal for the Meals on Wheels program on Tuesday, July 7. (Kezia Setyawan/The Enterprise)

ONTARIO – The local Meals on Wheels effort faced an uncertain future a week ago but the intervention of a local restaurant owner rescued the meals program disrupted after Covid struck Snake River Correctional Institution.

The kitchen at the prison – through a contract Malheur Council on Aging and Community Services – typically prepares the food for Meals on Wheels but when Covid forced the facility into quarantine, that service was stopped.

That left Sandy Shelton interim director of Malheur Council on Aging and Community Services with a big question.

Fortunately, Reva Kirby, owner of Kirley’s Family Dining restaurant in Ontario, had an answer.

As Shelton and her staff scrambled to find a new source for senior meals, she said she thought immediately of Kirby.

“We had done some cooperative efforts with Kirley’s before, a hot lunch for our senior veteran’s population. We served 50 people twice and both times Kirley’s did a great job,” said Shelton.

Shelton said she has owned Kirley’s Family Dining restaurant for about two years.

Geography also played a role. Kirley’s and the Malheur Council on Aging are neighbors in southeast Ontario.

Shelton walked across the parking lot last week to the restaurant and asked Kirby for help. She immediately offered to step up.

“She is a community-minded person and has a real heart for seniors,” said Shelton.

Kirby said she doesn’t mind “stepping up when someone else is in need.”

“The restaurant business is so hard right now but, I think I can provide a good meal for them at cost,” said Kirby.

Over the next two weeks, Kirby and an employee will put together about 130 meals a day for seniors scattered around Ontario.

“If they need it to go longer, I can do it longer,” said Kirby. “And I can provide the meals to them at cost.”

Kirby said she worked in a nursing home in the past

“I have experience with cooking with low sodium, sugar and still making it taste good,” Kirby said. “It will provide them with a good balanced meal.”

Kirby said her menu will run the gamut from stir fry, to small hamburger steaks with grilled onions to turkey sandwiches.

Malheur Council on Aging and Community Services provides a small amount of funding for the meals, said Shelton.

 After Kirby creates the meals, Malheur Council on Aging and Community Services volunteers will deliver the meals to seniors.

The program, Shelton said, is crucial for many local seniors.

“Sometimes it is their only contact. Some of these folks sort of get to know their delivery person and they chat with them. They sit and wait for that person to come,” said Shelton.

Shelton said Kirby’s dedication to help the elderly is evident.

“She does not want to put them in jeopardy. That was her clear message,” said Shelton.

Kirby said she opened Kirley’s Family Dining restaurant two years ago.

The restaurant business, she said, has “just been in my blood and I’ve been in and out of it for years.”

Shelton said Kirby’s help was a “big weight lifted off my shoulders.”

“I was just absolutely ecstatic,” said Shelton.

 News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected] or 541-235-1003.


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