Vancouver, WA. Bank of America announced Meals on Wheels People as its 2019 Neighborhood Builder grant recipient for the Portland-Vancouver market. The Bank of America award includes a $200,000 gift that is being used to open a first-of-its-kind diner for seniors and community members in Vancouver. David Reiter, Senior Vice President, Bank of America, and Suzanne Washington, Chief Executive Officer, Meals on Wheels People, cut the ribbon with the Vancouver Chamber of Commerce for The Diner Vancouver’s grand opening on May 20th.
More about The Diner Vancouver, including the menu offerings, is at the link: www.thediner.org.
The diner’s unique model aims to achieve several things: provide choice for senior diners, create a welcoming atmosphere with high quality, locally sourced food, and establish an eating establishment that appeals to seniors, families and the business community. Those age 60 and older who enroll in the Meals on Wheels People program have the option of ordering off a special menu, which meets Older American Act dietary guidelines, and is available on a donation basis. Revenue from paying customers will help support the Meals on Wheels program in Clark County and allow the nonprofit organization to better serve more rural parts of the county. The diner is open daily for breakfast and lunch, is on a bus line for access, and serves comfort food sourced from local ingredients.
Through the Neighborhood Builders program, each year the bank provides a local nonprofit with a unique combination of leadership training, $200,000 in flexible funding, volunteer support, and a network of peer organizations across the country. Last year’s local winner was All Hands Raised.
“In every community we serve, we’re continuously assessing that community’s changing, evolving needs. And while many of our core clients are homebound seniors who benefit from our home delivery services, our research showed that more seniors locally are actually healthy and mobile and would benefit from more socialization opportunities. Out of that, the idea for this new diner was born,” said Suzanne Washington, Chief Executive Officer of Meals on Wheels People.
Washington adds that seniors will now have choices around when, what and with whom to eat. She noted that today’s seniors do not fit into the same demographic as seniors a decade or two ago, as they want more menu choice, flexibility in dining times and a more traditional restaurant experience. Besides providing a reliable place for seniors to get a meal, the restaurant — which is called The Diner Vancouver — also allows them to socialize with family, friends, neighbors and patrons.
“This is a new approach that hasn’t been done before within the Meals on Wheels organization. Here in the Portland-Vancouver area, we’re both an entrepreneurial and philanthropic community, and the thoughtfulness that went into this new diner model really interested us at Bank of America. This project is truly addressing an identified community need in a creative and innovative way,” said Roger Hinshaw, Bank of America’s market president for Oregon and Southwest Washington. “This unique project is an example of what our Neighborhood Builders program seeks to support, which is impactful programs and solutions that address local community needs.”
Monique Barton, senior vice president at Bank of America, added: “Over the many years that we’ve partnered with Meals on Wheels and supported them philanthropically, we’ve seen first-hand how impactful their work is. We’re excited to be directing this additional support to ensure even more local seniors have nutritious options while maintaining their independence. We’re optimistic that this new diner will make a real difference in helping Meals on Wheels People achieve even more financial sustainability, to further expand its resources to address need in Clark County and throughout the Portland Metro region.” Barton noted that over the past 15 years of the BofA Neighborhood Builders program operating in the Portland market, this is the first time it’s being earmarked for a project in Vancouver, Wash.
Suzanne Washington said that so far, feedback from the community has been strong. “Right out of the gate, business has been robust. In the first few days we were open, we’ve had amazingly positive response from seniors and the community alike. We’ve also seen a lot of multi-generational diners coming in together. The Diner is truly moving us closer towards achieving our vision of no senior going hungry or lonely — all while providing an additional revenue stream, and creating new workforce development opportunities in the region,” she said. “I’d call that a win-win-win!”
In addition to sharing the news about 2019’s Neighborhood Builder winner, BofA’s Hinshaw also relayed that going forward, the Portland-Vancouver market will select two local nonprofits each year to be recipients of Neighborhood Builder $200,000 awards, up from one in recent years. Local nonprofits can learn more at www.bankofamerica.com/neighborhoodbuilders.
From Bank of America:
Through the Neighborhood Builders program, we deploy capital and build cross-sector partnerships to advance nonprofit leaders addressing economic mobility and social progress issues in the communities we serve. Since 2004, we’ve invested more than $220 million in 49 communities — including Portland — partnering with more than 1,000 nonprofits and more than 2,000 nonprofit leaders by delivering flexible funding, leadership development and a network of peers. Fifteen years on, Neighborhood Builders is one of the nation’s largest philanthropic investments in nonprofit leadership development. Learn more at www.bankofamerica.com/about or www.bankofamerica.com/oregon.
From Meals on Wheels People:
Meals on Wheels People has been changing lives one meal at a time since 1970. They provide 5,000 nutritious meals every weekday at dozens of neighborhood dining sites throughout Multnomah, Washington and Clark counties and through Meals on Wheels delivery to homebound elderly. Their service not only alleviate hunger and social isolation, but allow seniors to live independently with dignity in their own homes. Aging in place reduces depression, falls and hospitalization as well as the high cost of institutional care. For more information, visit www.mowp.org.