By John Davis
Oxford Park Commission
Even before Will St. Amand opened up the portable food carrier, he wanted to know about his friend. For a man who has been serving the community for decades with the Meals on Wheels program, St. Amand is a comforting factor for many.
His face is friendly and inviting. He offers great knowledge to those he visits with, and he is beyond reliable for RSVP, which helps staff the program. Meals on Wheels started in America in 1954. The program originated in England in 1943 after many had lost their homes during the bombing blitz of World War II. Back then, the Women’s Volunteer Service for Civil Defense delivered meals to those that were unable to take care of themselves. St. Amand got involved with the program as soon as it arrived in Oxford. He currently picks up the meals at the Stone Center. When he first started, the meals were at the basement next to city hall on the Square. He couldn’t remember the exact year he first started, but RSVP has been involved with the program since it started 46 years ago.
“They used to bring the meals in long trays and you would scoop it out and we would put it into each of the containers from there,” St. Amand said.
Before I-Phones and other devices that could help navigate, St. Amand used to travel to see people using landmarks. He has used water towers, former mailboxes and house colors to deliver the food. The number of people he has delivered food to has varied over the years. The route he is currently on only has six. The most he remembers delivering on a route was 28, and that took him out west of Oxford. For St. Amand, there is a ton of enjoyment involved with delivering meals.
“I get more out of this than they do. I get to see people in their own home. People are very intent on getting the meal, but they don’t want to drive to get it,” St. Amand. “Sometimes the exchanges are practically null and other times there is a lot of discussion. People have problems, and I think RSVP is a partial solution to some of those problems. This allows them to stay in their home for as long as possible.”