MOWforWNYcolor-ICON_2The Meals on Wheels Foundation of Western New York will once again be encouraging WNY shoppers to “Step up to the Plate” at Dash’s Markets in support of Meals on Wheels’ mission.

Beginning Sunday November 3, 2013 and continuing through Saturday, December 7, shoppers will be able to make a $1, $3 or $5 donation at any of Dash’s four local stores to benefit the work of Meals on Wheels.

Meals on Wheels delivers approximately 900,000 meals per year to homebound seniors and disabled individuals out of 21 sites throughout Erie County.  No qualifying individual is turned away due to an inability to pay.

“Meals on Wheels does so much more than just deliver nutrition to the homebound.  Our volunteers provide a few minutes of warm conversation to the lonely and provide tremendous peach of mind to caregivers who know their loved ones are being checked on,” Tara A. Ellis, President and CEO, said. “With high demand, increased costs and flat or decreasing funding, community support becomes absolutely critical.  We’re very grateful to the tremendous team at Dash’s for their collaboration on this fundraiser and to Dash’s shoppers for their generous donations.”


Are you sitting down? If you are you are ready for some toning, stretching, and strengthening exercises you can do from the comfort of your favorite chair. Pay attention to your body during the movements — if anything hurts or causes pain, stop immediately. And check with your doctor first before beginning this, or any, exercise program.

1. Posture Check: Simply sitting up straight in a chair with good posture tones a variety of muscles in your torso. Turn straight posture into an exercise by pressing your knees together to engage your inner thighs, squeezing your buttocks, sitting tall, and pulling in your belly button (abdominals) toward your spine. It’s important to press your shoulders back and down and to keep your neck neutral, while doing this exercise. Try to maintain this posture as long as you can while sitting.

2. Sitting Jack: You can do modified sitting jumping jacks by sitting on the edge of your chair. Open and close your arms and legs as you would during a normal jumping jack, and move your limbs, as quickly as you can, in and out. Start slowly and work up to 3 sets of 20 reps.

3. Twisty Abs: Strong abdominal muscles help stabilize your torso, which reduces aches and pains in your lower back and hips. To strengthen yours begin by sitting tall on the edge of your chair and cross your arms over your chest. Inhale and squeeze (flex) your abdominal muscles lightly. Without relaxing your stomach muscles, exhale slowly, squeezing your abs in tighter and turning your upper body to the right. Inhale and twist back to center. Then repeat to the left. Work up to 3 sets of 20 alternating reps.

4. Leg Lifts: To strengthen the thigh and hip muscles, you need only extend your leg. Sit on the edge of your chair with your arms by your sides. Extend your right leg out straight and flex your foot so that just the right heel is on the floor. Lift your leg up as high as you can without rounding your back. Keeping your foot flexed engages the muscles in the shins and ankle. Hold for three counts and then lower. Work up to 3 sets of 10 reps on each leg.

5. Seated Press-Ups: Engage your shoulder and triceps muscles with this joint-friendly move. Sit on the edge of your chair with your arms by your sides, palms over the edge of your seat. Press down with your arms as if you were going to try to lift yourself off the chair (you don’t have to lift up). Hold for three counts and then release. Work up to 3 sets of 10 reps.

6. Arm Circles: Increase flexibility and improve posture with gentle arm circles. Raise your arms straight out to your sides and press your shoulder blades together. Extend arms with palms down, thumbs facing forward, and do 20 forward circles with your arms. Then flip your palms up, thumbs facing behind you, and do 20 backward circles with your arms.

7. Ankle Rotators: While seated all the way back in your chair lift one leg off the floor a couple of inches and rotate you ankle clockwise for 20 seconds. You should be making a circle in the air with the movement of your ankle. Then rotate the same ankle counterclockwise for 20 seconds as well. Repeat the clockwise and counterclockwise movement with the other ankle.


When asked, a wide majority of seniors say they’d prefer to stay in their homes as they age.  In fact, studies have shown both physical and mental health benefits resulting from elderly independence.  Here is a list of things that can be done to keep your loved one safe at home.

  • Purchase easy-to-put-on clothes and shoes; look for shoes with straps (e.g., velcro) instead of laces, pull-on pants and clothes with few buttons
  • Intall bright no-skid strips on steps
  • Remove tripping hazards (such as area rugs)
  • Assess kitchen supplies and consider alternatives such as knives with safe guards or lighter cookware
  • Add no-skid strips to the bathroom tub and consider installing a hand rail to make it easier to get in and out of the tub
  • Make sure all handrails inside and outside of the house are securely fastened
  • When replacing furniture, ensure that new items are the right height and firmness for individuals to get up with minimal help

Small steps that you take can really add up when making a house comfortable and safe (fall-free) for your loved one.


By Peg Fitkowski, RD, CDN*

As a dietitian, I see how hard it can be for people to make healthy choices – whether because they don’t understand what is healthy or because so many other temptations get in the way. Whether you are looking to age gracefully, reduce the effects of a health condition or just get the best nutrients possible on a limited budget, one of the best decisions you can make is introducing “super foods” into your diet.

So called because they are packed full of critical nutrients without having a lot of filler calories or bad fats, the following super foods can help you enjoy super health.

  • Sweet potatoes – One of the best vegetables you can eat. Loaded with vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium and fiber
  • Grape tomatoes – Perfect for salads, garnish, or as a healthy snack. These bite-size tomatoes are packed with vitamin A, vitamin C and fiber
  • Fat-free or 1% milk – An excellent source of calcium, vitamins and protein with very little fat and cholesterol
  • Broccoli – Incredibly versatile for meals or snacks, and loaded with vitamin A, vitamin C and folic acid
  • Salmon – The omega-3 fats in this healthy fish help reduce the risk of heart disease
  • Whole grain crackers – Loaded with fiber and generally fat free, whole grain crackers are perfect for snacking and are a much healthier selection with soup than most breads
  • Brown rice – Quick and easy to make and full of fiber, magnesium, vitamin E, vitamin B-6, copper and zinc
  • Citrus fruits – Rich in vitamin C, folic acid and fiber. The sweet taste of fruit is great for snacks and easy to introduce to the whole family
  • Butternut squash – Loaded with vitamin A, vitamin C and fiber. And, many stores are selling peeled, diced squash that is ready to cook
  • Spinach and kale – These leafy greens are full of vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, folic acid, magnesium and iron

If super foods feel foreign to you, introduce them one at a time so that you aren’t changing your entire diet at once. Changes that you build in gradually have a better chance of sticking with you than changes you add all at once. Just remember that it’s not just about the calories or a weight loss goal. Super foods are really about helping you achieve super health!

*Peg Fitkowski, RD, CDN, is the Director of Nutrition Services for Meals on Wheels for WNY. Homebound seniors may be a fit for Meals on Wheels delivery; 716-822-2002.


By Peg Fitkowski, RD, CDN*

A healthy diet is a very important part of a healthy lifestyle. This is true at every age but can become even more crucial past mid-life when the risk for many diseases can rise. Many people consider it difficult and complicated to eat healthy foods and it certainly can be – especially when you are counting calories, points, carbohydrates and other figures.

But it can also be easy to eat healthy meals. Follow these guidelines to build healthy meals and a healthy body:


  • Fill half of your plate with fruits and non-starchy vegetables. Fresh, frozen and canned vegetables all count. Mix in dark-green, red and orange vegetables; if using canned vegetables, look for “reduced sodium” or “no salt added” on the label.
  • Make sure half of your grains are whole grain. Choose 100% whole-grain breads, cereals, crackers and pastas. Select high fiber cereals (4+ grams) to help aid digestion.
  • Choose fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese.
  • Vary your protein choices. Eat a variety of protein each week, including seafood, nuts, beans, poultry, lean beef and eggs.
  • Watch your portions. Make sure you integrate in your favorite foods periodically so that you can stick to a healthy lifestyle. Just make sure that if you are having a less healthy treat (e.g., sugary desserts, salty snacks) you avoid oversized portions.

Many of us gain a couple pounds each year as we age and our metabolism slows. That’s why it’s important to balance your food and beverage intake with your daily energy needs. Try to work out 3–5 times per week for at least 30 minutes. If you still find the weight creeping on, try to cut-off food after 7 p.m. or look for culprits in your diet (e.g., a daily 400 calorie latte) that you could change to a substitute without losing a lot of satisfaction.

Diet is a significant factor in many diseases in America, and our diet is something we all have the power to change!

*Peg Fitkowski, RD, CDN, is the Director of Nutrition Services for Meals on Wheels for WNY. Homebound seniors may be a fit for Meals on Wheels delivery; 716-822-2002.


By Peg Fitkowski, RD, CDN*

Food plays a critical role in keeping each of us healthy and performing at our best. However, because food is a constant part of our lives, some people can become heedless to food safety issues. The good news is that it can be easier than you might think to protect yourself and your family against food-borne illness. Food safety comes down to three major steps: transport, storage and handling.

Safe Transport

Have you ever run to the grocery store, shopped, and then remembered two other errands? If so, you may have put your food at risk. One of the first rules of safe shopping is to always go straight home from the grocery store. For maximum safety, you also should pick up your perishable items last before checking out. Once home, refrigerate perishable foods within two hours of purchase. If it exceeds 90 degrees outside, make sure your purchases are in the fridge within one hour. If you live far away from the grocery store, you may need to take a small cooler with ice packs to the store to ensure your food makes it home safely.

Safe Storage

Have you ever eyed-up or sniffed a container of leftovers? Do you have a sense of how long leftovers should last in the refrigerator? Many people overestimate the shelf life of leftovers.

  • Most cooked meats will last three to four days; deli meat will last up to five.
  • Cooked seafood also lasts three to four days, while raw seafood will last just one to two days.
  • Soups, chili, prepared potatoes and pasta- or potato- based salads will last three to four days.
  • A frequent favorite – pizza – will last three to four days as well.
  • Cream-based desserts, however, will only last one to two days before going bad. Fruit-based desserts may last as long as three days.

The bottom line is, leftovers do not remain safe to eat as long as many people may expect, which can cause illness. When in doubt, throw it out!

Safe Handling

You also can easily make your cooking safer. Begin by washing your hands; repeat as needed, minimally as you change ingredients. Make sure to separate your ingredients; use multiple cutting boards or wash the board between each food type. Once prepared, make sure you cook your ingredients to the proper internal temperature – most red and white meats need to be cooked to at least 165 degrees. Always use a food thermometer and look at your ingredient’s package for specific temperatures. Finally, make sure you refrigerate any leftovers within 30 minutes. Food-borne illnesses can be very serious and they can become more frequent in the summer as people prepare their favorite salads, line up a picnic table with snacks for a day-long party or run errands on a 90-degree day with a trunk full of fresh food. Follow these tips to have a safer, more delicious summer!

*Peg Fitkowski, RD, CDN, is the Director of Nutrition Services for Meals on Wheels for WNY. Homebound seniors may be a fit for Meals on Wheels delivery; 716-822-2002.


MOW_wrazen_lahrThe Meals on Wheels Association of America has awarded second place in their “American Volunteer Contest” to a volunteer from Western New York. Jim Wrazen, a Lovejoy resident who has volunteered with Meals on Wheels for Western New York (MOW) for eight years, received the award in recognition of his service to the organization with the help of an online voting campaign.

Wrazen has volunteered with the organization for eight years, delivering meals five days a week to residents in the Lovejoy area. A short video outlining his commitment to the organization was submitted to the national competition, with winners recently announced at a conference in Boston.

“We are very proud of the service that Jim has provided to our organization over the past decade,” Tara A. Ellis, President and CEO, MOW, said. “We were thrilled to be able to tell his story on a national stage. We hope to spotlight many more of our great volunteers in the years to come. We also want to thank the hundreds of local residents who voted for Jim. The incredible support of the local community is once again key to our success.”

For many clients, the Meals on Wheels volunteers and staff may be the only visitors they receive regularly, so the companionship is just as important as the meals. The organization has nearly 1,500 volunteers delivering meals to homebound seniors and disabled residents across Erie County.



taraMeals on Wheels for Western New York (MOW-WNY) President and CEO Tara A. Ellis has been elected to serve on the National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs (NANASP) Board of Directors. In addition to bringing a Western New York voice to the NANASP goal of national advocacy for nutrition and aging issues, Ellis also will be serving on the NANSAP membership committee.

NANASP was founded in 1977 and is a national membership organization that advocates for and educates policy makers to effect legislative change to protect older Americans, as well as member organizations who serve older adults in the United States. NANASP also works to reshape the future of nutrition and healthy aging by advocating for community-based senior nutrition programs. NANASP impacts local, state and national public policy to maintain and improve the health and well-being of all older persons. In fact, NANASP has been integral in the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act. As MOW-WNY is one of the nation’s largest senior nutrition programs and focused on best practices, Ellis is uniquely positioned to advocate for healthy aging nationally.

Ellis began serving as President and CEO of MOW-WNY in March 2012 and oversees all management and operations of the Agency and of the Meals on Wheels Foundation of Western New York. Previously, she has held positions at Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute, M&T Bank, and the New York State Senate. She has an extensive background in management, communications, and community outreach. She also serves on the Buffalo Seminary Alumnae Association Board and serves on the New York State Association of Meals on Wheels Board and that board’s executive committee. She is a member of a number of trade and professional organizations including the Meals on Wheels Association of America, the Public Relations Society of America and the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Ellis received a master’s degree from Syracuse University and a bachelor’s degree from the University at Buffalo.

Ellis resides in Eggertsville, New York with her husband, Tom Kucharski, and their children, Tad and Austin.


DelmarShiloh-100-dMeals on Wheels for Western New York, a nonprofit organization providing home-delivered meals to the homebound elderly and disabled in Erie County, believes that 100 years is a big deal!  That’s why the organization pulls out all the stops to help clients celebrate this major milestone birthday.

Meals on Wheels for Western New York has a special client who is reaching his 100th birthday this week.  Delmar S. of Buffalo will turn 100 on Thursday, August 8, 2013.

That day, Delmar will receive something extra special with his meals.  He’ll receive a small birthday cake, a MOW birthday card and a gift that was picked out specifically for him.

“Our clients are a part of our extended family at Meals on Wheels,” Tara A. Ellis, CEO and President, said. “We see clients five days a week for years on end so friendships naturally form. And, of course, we want to help our friends celebrate the big moments in their lives.”

For many clients, the Meals on Wheels volunteers and staff may be the only visitors they receive regularly so the companionship aspect of meal delivery can be just as critical – in some cases more critical – than the nutritious meals.


MOWforWNYcolor-ICON_2On Friday, August 2, 2013, Meals on Wheels for WNY (MOW-WNY) delivered its 500,000th meal for 2013.  This meal – a delicious breaded fish with ratatouille – was delivered to a client in South Buffalo.

MOW-WNY provides home-delivered meals to more than 3,500 homebound elderly and disabled individuals each year with the assistance of more than 1,500 volunteers and donations from a wide variety of sources, including the community.  The organization serves more than 900,000 meals each year to the homebound, in addition to 300,000 meals to mobile seniors at local senior centers.

“We’re very proud to be able to efficiently meet the need in the local community and to help our homebound seniors age in place with dignity and independence,” Tara A. Ellis, President and CEO, said, “Our nutritious meals, combined with the social well-being check and companionship provided by volunteers, are crucial in enabling seniors to remain in their homes and in alleviating the burden on assisted living centers.”

No qualifying individual is turned away due to an inability to contribute toward the cost of meals.  As such, MOW-WNY would not be able to provide nutritious food and crucial companionship to the homebound without the support of the entire WNY community.  Volunteers, donors and other supports are always needed.