Nonprofit has partnered with Sun City church
By Aimee Yamamori
Special to Independent Newsmedia
Founded in 2014, Meals of Joy was the second nonprofit labor-of-love for Goodyear resident Larry Cervarich.
After having successfully started a nonprofit that serves homeless teens, Mr. Cervarich turned his attention toward feeding more seniors in the Southwest Valley.
He came to Arizona in the fall of 2006 after leaving Portland, Oregon where he spent most of his career in the food service industry. Mr. Cervarich owned restaurants, and worked with both commercial bakeries and the food truck business. During that time became a member of the local chapter of Meals on Wheels and became inspired by their mission to serve those that are most vulnerable in the community.
After moving to Arizona, Mr. Cervarich quickly became an active member of the community. He started his first nonprofit, Homeless Youth Connection (HYC), in 2009. HYC grew exponentially and now serves hundreds of teens across Maricopa County. The nonprofit served to connect Mr. Cervarich to a number of organizations and businesses that support his desire to help others.
Once HYC became successful and more self-sufficient, Mr. Cervarich shifted his focus to his other long-term goal: developing an organization that provided nutritional meals to low-income seniors.
Meals of Joy became an official 501 (c)(3) in 2014 and opened the doors to serve seniors in February of 2015. The original goal was to provide meals to seniors in only a few cities, but the organization grew quickly, and Meals of Joy now provides freshly-made, ready-to-eat and tasty meals to individuals in seven cities across the West Valley.
“It’s important to me and to our board of directors that Meals of Joy continue to provide meals that have quantity, quality and flavor that older adults will enjoy,” Mr. Cervarich stated. “We will never deliver a meal frozen and I’m determined to keep our meals fresh and delicious. If we provide a fresh, hot dish to a senior who may not have otherwise had a healthy meal, it accomplishes our mission.”
Meals are currently delivered by volunteers four days per week and the fee is based on the client’s income. It is the goal of Meals of Joy that no senior ever go hungry, or have to make the choice between eating and any other basic need.
Meals of Joy has partnered with Fountain of Life Church in Sun City to bring more meals to seniors across the West Valley. The church has donated use of its kitchen space for food preparation five days a week. As soon as the meals are cooked and packed, they are picked up from the church kitchen by volunteers and delivered directly to the senior clients.
The meals are available to anyone age 55 or older and are made fresh daily. No meal preparation is required and delivery is free and provided by volunteers. About 150 meals per week are prepared in the Fountain of Life church kitchen five days per week.
“As we began to research our own community, we found that in the Sun City area alone, 30 percent of our residents live on a combined income of under $25 thousand per year and 45 percent were under $35 thousand. This demonstrates that the need to serve our seniors is great,” Fountain of Life Pastor Jim Swinford stated.
Volunteers are needed to support Meals of Joy by delivering meals or by helping with food packing at the kitchen.
Visit mealsofjoy.org or call 623-594-9588.
Editor’s note: Aimee Yamamori manages Mountain Forest LLC, a Goodyear marketing and advertising business.