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Carrying on the Family Tradition in a New Space

Dreesen's Catering has moved, but it's taken Meals on Wheels along for the ride.

may have moved from Park Place to a brand new building on Gingerbread Lane, but that doesn't mean the family has stopped doing what it does best: providing quality meats and preparing deliveries for .

And, yes, it goes without saying, they still make Dreesen's famous donuts.

Rudy DeSanti Jr. and his wife Christine moved the catering company and meat market to the new energy efficient building in December, after a long building project. DeSanti has a lot more room in the new building, with two convection ovens, deep fryers, a grill, and a walk-in refrigerator.

DeSanti also prepares cold lunches and hot dinners for Meals on Wheels' 40 clients five days a week, in the new space, something his father started early in the 28-year-old organization's history.

"I'm just trying to keep up what my father started," DeSanti said. He remembers helping his father make the meals when he was just 13. Now his children, ages 9 and 11, are starting to help out, too.

He also prepares frozen meals for the weekend that are sent out with Friday's meals. One to two volunteers help pack up the meals and organize them for the drivers, who cover seven routes in the Town of East Hampton.

The only criteria for eligibility for the home deliveries is clients have to be home-bound. They are encouraged to pay $8 a day. Meals on Wheels also sends home staple items, like bread and butter, fresh fruit, and even a little chocolate here and there. The donates flowers for client's birthdays.

Not only do the DeSantis enjoy working in the new state-of-the-art kitchen, but the volunteers with Meals on Wheels love it too.

"We love it. It's a lovely place to work," said Gretchen Howe, the executive director. "There's always daylight, even in the rain," she said.

"We didn't even have windows in the other kitchen," said Joan Wyckoff, the assistant to the director. "It's so nice to have everything here."

It's a stark contrast to the older, dark space DeSanti worked out of after Dreesen's Deli closed several years ago. Volunteers could often be seen in the Reutershan's parking lot packing up coolers for runs.

But, Howe said, what is even more important is the working relationship with the DeSantis. "It's very difficult to find someone who would be available year-round for us."

Organizations across the country use the name Meals on Wheels that are set up differently, but this one is funded by donations only. No federal or state grants are involved, though the county gives the group a small annual donation.

While the DeSantis and the volunteers enjoy the kitchen, others can enjoy the rest of the building, which is complete with solar panels and is just walking distance to the . moved in on the second floor. Two other office spaces are available.

Debra Brodie Foster March 22, 2012 at 01:29 PM
You want a definition of a real community? It's a local family passing on to their son and his wife the important volunteer effort to feed residents who cannot get out to enjoy this beautiful place. And the flowers and chocolate on birhdays... only in East Hampton. You did a good job with your kids, Rudy and Tammy. Deb Foster
Loretta Lynch March 25, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Was talking with a friend about your families business. She visited EH years ago and always went into the store on Newtown Lane. She was telling all what a wonderful butcher shop she went to and I asked her where it was. Newtown Lane she said EH. She loved the store because when she would buy her meat the butcher would tell he how to cook it. I told her about you and the family. We all wish you great success.
Loretta Lynch March 25, 2012 at 03:33 PM
P.S. I live in Barefoot Bay, Florida. It's a small world.

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