Aldersgate United Methodist Church, 15 Wesley Lane, will host a celebration of nearly 50 years of the Meals on Wheels program Sunday, Sept. 25, from 2 to 4 p.m. There will be a special emphasis on the faithful work of Nutrition Director Lois Stackpole-Alley, for all she has done to support and sustain this essential program.

Pratt Memorial United Methodist Church (now the Wyeth Center), the parent congregation of the Aldersgate UMC, started Meals on Wheels in Knox County out of concern for nutrition and homebound seniors. Meals were initially served at the church on weekdays and later delivered by volunteer drivers. Within a short time, the program grew and preparation moved to the kitchen of the newly constructed Methodist Conference Home on Summer Street under Stackpole-Alley’s supervision.

She has shepherded the program over the past five decades by connecting directly with each client, often recognizing individual voices on the phone. Until recently, she also coordinated the hundreds of volunteers needed to deliver the meals to homes throughout Knox County. Stackpole-Alley has been very aware that a caring visit from a volunteer may be the only human contact many will have in a day. Daily deliveries of meals often enable seniors to remain in their own homes much longer than would otherwise be possible.

Presently, meals are delivered to 208 individuals five days each week by a team of 75 volunteers. The Meals on Wheels program will continue under the auspices of the MCH staff. An expanded kitchen, presently under construction, will be named for Stackpole-Alley.

The planned celebration will honor both Meals on Wheels and  Stackpole-Alley. Past and present drivers, family members, meal recipients and community members are invited to come celebrate this vital program, as well as the woman whose lifelong dedication has made it possible.