Local eateries step up to the plate for the less fortunate

September 9, 2022

Last week I had the honor of joining fellow Meals on Wheels Lewes-Rehoboth board member John Wolfle in accepting a big check from Jeff Hamer of Fins Hospitality Group. Rather than being a random donation (always appreciated, of course!), FHG generously supports a special aspect of Meals on Wheels Lewes-Rehoboth’s mission, paying special attention to at-risk clients, which includes the homebound who have very little or nothing in their kitchens other than their regular Meals on Wheels delivery.

It all started several years ago when Fins employee Brianna Rovinski started visiting Giant Food to buy quantities of nonperishable foods. She and her team concentrated on food items such as applesauce, saltines, peanut butter, pudding, soups, nuts, jelly – casual bites and snacks that everyone enjoys. Because the food prepared and delivered by Meals on Wheels Lewes-Rehoboth must follow certain dietary guidelines, the snacks also had to be distributed based on dietary needs. Giant Food even stepped up to the plate by providing additional items at a discount.

Office personnel at Meals on Wheels Lewes-Rehoboth eventually took over the shopping duties, but the entire project continues to be supported by Jeff and Kim Hamer, and their team at Fins Hospitality Group. The at-risk group currently comprises around 10 percent of the total number of Meals on Wheels Lewes-Rehoboth clients.

For many of our elderly citizens, breakfast, lunch and dinner can be a challenge when they can’t get to the grocery store or perhaps can’t even get out of their homes. Founded in 1970, Meals on Wheels Lewes-Rehoboth holds the distinction of being the first home-delivered meal program in Delaware. The concept (but not the execution) is simple: Meals on Wheels Lewes-Rehoboth provides hot meals to more than 450 homebound residents exclusively in the Lewes, Rehoboth and Harbeson areas.

The implementation of this service begins with an intricate, daily ballet performed by office staff, cooks, packers and drivers – almost all of them volunteers! The process begins before dawn in the kitchens of Fish On restaurant in the Villages of Five Points. Several years ago, when the charity found itself without a food-preparation facility, SoDel Concepts restaurant group stepped in to provide the daily meal creation, cooking and packaging. Well before the restaurant opens to the public, Fish On bustles with drivers, cooks, packers and organizers. Most of the 145 drivers work two hours a week making a daily round trip of 25 to 40 miles over 19 different routes to deliver a smile, a greeting and a hot meal. The volunteers are the backbone of the effort, and in fact, many of the drivers have been with MOW for years.

Meals on Wheels Lewes-Rehoboth’s charter keeps our homebound neighbors in their homes instead of relying on public or private assisted living. The service is entirely needs-based. John Wolfle tells me that in their 53 years, they have never had to refuse a meal to a qualified client because of a lack of money, and they receive virtually all of their local funding from annual events, including the Top Chef of the Culinary Coast event in the spring, the Harry Derrickson Memorial Golf Tournament held in the fall at Rehoboth Beach Country Club, and the Jack O’Hollaren Wheels for Meals bicycle ride in early summer. Smaller events and donations help to fill in the gaps.

Numbers don't lie, and Meals on Wheels Lewes-Rehoboth has proven itself to be a cost-effective alternative to institutionalization. As retirees live longer, the program has grown every year. 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 this: For many of the senior clients, the daily Meals on Wheels Lewes-Rehoboth delivery volunteer is their only connection to the outside world.

Feeling generous? You can help provide hot meals to those who can’t do it for themselves simply by going to A small donation can go a long way to help our homebound elderly right here in Sussex County.

Bob Yesbek writes and talks beach eats nonstop. He can be reached at

  • 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

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