Local university students help the elderly

Local university students help the elderly

Jacksonville, Florida. – It’s a simple yet unique idea: Use the extra food that hospitals give patients and donate it to use it to feed the elderly. Why are you throwing it away?

Meals on Wings began collecting this ‘extra’ food from local hospitals about two years ago after discovering a growing need to provide food for seniors staying at home. It serves customers who are on a waiting list for food from another meal delivery provider, Meals on Wheels.

Meals on Wings is created and operated by the University of North Florida.

“We started pre-COVID when we handed over 25 seniors, and we are now serving more than 200,” explained Megan Nimchik, chef advisor at Meals on Wings. Three days a week our students go to local hospitals and get food. This food was not served. It was just extra food.”

The students then pack the food into a huge kitchen at the UN Foundation and label the meals. Students then deliver food to various living facilities for the elderly.


The volunteers are students of the United Nations Foundation. Many, but not all, are students in the Nutrition and Dietetics program.

“We have to apply what we learn in the classroom when we make meals,” explained Laura Rogers, a senior at the United Nations Foundation who added her favorite part is interacting with seniors. Sometimes these guys are the only human interaction they get each week. It’s good to see them every week.”

Samantha Burke, Senior at the United Nations Foundation, explained that meals on the wings focus on providing healthy food.

“Last week, I had a guy, who was just telling me how happy he was to receive the meals and how delicious they were. He couldn’t believe how good the meals were and how fresh they were,” Burke said.

Samantha Burke and Laura Rogers, senior fellows at the United Nations Foundation, bring meals weekly to Carol Patton’s home. (WJXT)

Burke and Rogers deliver weekly to Carol Patton’s home, one of several on their way. Patton suffers from arthritis and has difficulty walking. She looks forward to seeing them every week.

“This is here, all the time so my kitten, my cats, know. They are like my family,” she explained, referring to Rogers.


Button said that if it weren’t for the food he provides her with “meals on the wings,” she would likely only be able to buy peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, not the vegetables and fruits provided by the program.

I was thrilled to receive this week’s meal: mashed potatoes, turkey, stuffing, broccoli, rolls and a mini muffin.

Wings meals are not delivered to individual homes. She works with senior coordinators at senior living facilities in Duval County to get to know her clients. The program always needs volunteers. You must be a UNF student. They meet at Hicks Hall three days a week. To find out more, send an email to: [email protected]

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