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Local chefs and suppliers help area neighbors survive at home

June 16, 2017

The Board of Directors and the Event Committee behind last week's Top Chef of the Culinary Coast event are still basking in the glow of success.

Thanks to the generosity of Meineke Car Care Center of Lewes, Cape Gazette, WBOC-TV, Delmarva Broadcasting Co., Techno Goober, Jungle Jim's Water Park, Signarama, Atlantic Transportation, Gordon Foods, RehobothFoodie.com, Southern Delaware Tourism Inc., over 20 restaurants and at least that many additional sponsors, purveyors and suppliers, year number four generated a record yield for this exclusively Sussex charity.

Founded in 1970, Meals on Wheels Lewes-Rehoboth holds the distinction of being the first home-delivered meal program in the State of Delaware. The concept (but not the execution) is simple: Meals on Wheels Lewes-Rehoboth provides two meals a day, 365 days each year, to more than 200 homebound residents exclusively in the Lewes, Rehoboth and Harbeson areas.

The devil is in the details, and the execution is an intricate ballet performed daily by office staff, cooks, packers and drivers - almost all of them volunteers! Most of the 100 drivers work two hours a week making a daily round trip of 25 to 40 miles to deliver 10 to 20 meals.

Since 1995, Meals on Wheels Lewes-Rehoboth has delivered well over 664,121 hot meals to deserving seniors! The generosity of the late Matt Haley lives on in the form of an arrangement he struck with Meals on Wheels Lewes-Rehoboth when they found themselves without a food preparation facility. Matt's organization stepped in to provide the creation, cooking and packaging of the daily meals in the huge commercial kitchen at Fish On in the Villages of Five Points.

Numbers don't lie, and it is apparent that the Meals on Wheels Lewes-Rehoboth program is a cost-effective alternative to institutionalization. The program has grown at a yearly rate of 3 to 6 percent as retirees live longer, and it's a sad but proven fact that even a more-than-modest retirement account can be wiped out when illness comes to call. The most poignant element, at least for me, is that for many of the homebound seniors, the daily Meals on Wheels Lewes-Rehoboth delivery volunteer is their only connection to the outside world.

Speaking of meals, lucky ticketholders for the Top Chef of the Culinary Coast event were treated to one-of-a-kind off-menu dishes during the informal and friendly competition. Generous restaurants up and down the coast generously stepped up to the plate to feed hungry participants. Po'Boys Creole & Fresh Catch, Fork & Flask at Nage, Lefty's Alley and Eats, Fins Ale House & Oyster Bar, Henlopen City Oyster House, Pickled Pig Pub and Pig & Publican, Off the Hook, Lupo Italian Kitchen, 99 Sea Level, Salt Air, Touch of Italy, Chesapeake & Maine, Rehoboth Beach Country Club, Matt's Fish Camp - so many dishes - so little space left on this page!

Suffice it to say that each and every chef, restaurant, supplier and sponsor put his or her best foot forward for our worthy cause. Teller Wines in Lewes provided wine tastes. Dogfish Head provided distilled spirits. Revelation Craft Brewery poured the beer. As a special treat, Nassau Valley Vineyards served up blueberry wine in little chocolate cups courtesy of former Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory bosses Roberta and Klaus Wuttke. And of course, the event would not be complete without Paula Pepper and a specially created flavor from Hopkins Farm Creamery. The always generous and talented Paul Cullen provided continuous music throughout the entire event.

On behalf of Governing Board President John Wolfle, event committee Co-chair Lana O'Hollaren and Meals on Wheels Program Director Kathy Keuski, I say thank you – thank you to all. There are no other words. Often the sole source of daily contact for our homebound elderly, Meals on Wheels Lewes-Rehoboth also controls healthcare costs by helping local clients avoid institutionalized living. I’m proud to be even a small part of that.

Bob Yesbek is a serial foodie and can be reached at byesbek@CapeGazette.com.

  • So many restaurants, so little time! Food writer Bob Yesbek gives readers a sneak peek behind the scenes, exposing the inner workings of the local culinary industry, from the farm to the table and everything in between. He can be reached at byesbek@capegazette.com.

    Masthead photo by Grant Gursky. Used with permission from Coastal Style Magazine.

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