Rider University partners with Meals on Wheels of Mercer County

More than 1,600 meals will be prepared weekly for those in need
Rachel Stengel '14

Rider University, along with its new dining service provider, Gourmet Dining, has partnered with Meals on Wheels of Mercer County to prepare more than 1,600 meals weekly for local residents in need.

Every morning from Monday to Friday, Meals on Wheels volunteers, Rider students and staff members from Gourmet Dining will prepare healthy meals and deliver them to participants in the Meals on Wheels program. The first meal preparation took place on Oct. 16. 

"It's so important for our students to be involved outside the classroom and in the local community," says Rider President Gregory G. Dell'Omo. "Meals on Wheels of Mercer County provides such a necessary service to our neighbors. We're incredibly thankful for Gourmet Dining's support of this important initiative."

Meals on Wheels of Mercer County prepares and delivers dietary specific meals to homebound individuals who are unable to cook and/or shop for themselves. It serves residents in eight municipalities, and in 2017 alone, it served close to 80,000 meals. The majority of Meals on Wheels participants are at a critical point of food insecurity where, without the program, they may be forced to choose between food and other financial commitments, according to Sasa Olessi Montaño, CEO of Meals on Wheels of Mercer County.

"We are so excited about this new partnership with Rider University and Gourmet Dining," she says. "When I approached Greg [Dell'Omo] with the idea of partnering, he didn't even hesitate. We are now able to provide even more healthy options for our participants. We have many more vegetarian options and allergen-specific meals because of Gourmet's focus on quality food for a variety of diets."

According to George Kuzma, vice president of business development for Gourmet Dining, being an active and positive presence in the communities Gourmet serves is a critical part of the organization's mission. 

"We were thrilled when Rider University afforded us the opportunity to serve those in need through the Meals on Wheels program and to actively participate in the engaged learning of the Rider University students," he says. 

The first meal preparation was staffed by members of the wrestling team. According to head coach John Hangey, the experience was impactful for his team. 

"Having our team volunteer their time and efforts to the Meals on Wheels program is important to our program for many reasons. Mostly, it helps individuals and/or families in a time of need, it also provides me a platform to further develop my team members' overall character, making them more well-rounded young men," he says. 

Interested in volunteering?

Volunteers are continuously needed to help with meal preparation. Those interested can sign up here. For more information about the program, please contact the Office of Service & Civic Engagement at [email protected] or 609.869.5247.