Santa Monica Lookout
Santa Monica Nonprofit to Deliver Meals on Bikes
By Jason Islas
March 19, 2013 -- Meals on Wheels West (MOWW) in Santa Monica is looking for volunteers to help deliver meals to homebound and elderly residents by bike.
As part March for Meals, MOWW is asking volunteers to hitch up trailers to their bikes and strap on their helmets to help the nonprofit deliver meals to the more than 100 clients it serves Thursday morning.
“Meals on Wheels Association of America has a national campaign called March for meals,” said Ellen Raybin, director of Community Relations at MOWW. Traditionally, MOWW invites City dignitaries to help deliver meals to mark the ocassion.
“We decided to mark it differently this year and to emphasize sustainability,” she said. “We thought it would be really cool to demonstrate Santa Monica's commitment to biking by delivering meals on bikes.”
Usually, MOWW volunteers deliver meals to about 110 clients a day, Raybin said. When doing it by car, it takes about 42 people on 21 different routes a day.
This will be the first time MOWW will use bikes as a means to transport its clients meals to their doors.
“We are kind of experimenting,” Raybin said. “Other cities do it regularly.”
MOWW has partnered with the Bike Center, Santa Monica Spoke, Sustainable Streets and C.I.C.L.E. (Cyclists Inciting Change thru Live Exchange).
“We're providing support,” said Ron Durgin, general manager of the Santa Monica Bike Center. The Center will have three bikes on hand: two cargo bikes and one bike hitched to a trailer.
The cargo bikes can each hold up to 200 pounds of cargo, Durgin said. “That's a lot of food.”
Durgin is enthusiastic about the opportunity to promote bicycling.
“It's about proving it to other people that it's possible,” he said. “It's a demonstration that you can do this on a bike.”
Cynthia Rose, director of Santa Monica Spoke, hopes that after Thursday's ride, delivering meals with bikes will become a regular thing.
“Spoke and the Bike Center are interested in doing this on a regular basis,” she said. “As we started planning this one, there was already talk about how can we do this more.”
She hopes that the idea will spread to other businesses and organizations throughout the city.
So far, Raybin has 10 volunteers signed up for Thursday's ride.
With 10 volunteers, “we're looking to cover three to four routes,” said Raybin, each within a five-mile radius of the office.
There are between six and 10 clients on each route.
Volunteers do need to provide their own trailers, Raybin said.
The outcome of Thursday's event could presage the future of MOWW bike delivery services.
“If volunteers were interested in delivering meals by bicycle, we'd be more than glad to accommodate that,” Raybin said.
And though there are not “firm plans, there's a lot of excitement,” Rose said. “It's a shinning example of what a bike can do, especially in a City like Santa Monica.”
Volunteers will meet at the MOWW office at 1823 Michigan Avenue by 10 a.m. Thursday. For more information or to volunteer, send an email to Info@MealsOnWheelsWest.org or call (310) 394-5133, ext. 6.
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