Kali Grumley and Karly Carnovale

Pictured are Kali Grumley (left) and Karly Carnovale of St. Marys.

ST. MARYS — A pair of St. Marys sisters have joined forces to offer a much-needed service in the Elk County and DuBois areas.

Penn Highlands Elk Speech Language Pathologist Kali Grumley, who is the sister of Karly Carnovale, owner of Cooper’s Diner on South Michael Road, said her job involves evaluating and treating people with Dysphagia, which means having difficulty chewing or swallowing.

“I’ve noticed the social impact that it has on these individuals, and their ability to go out to eat and have a nice meal at a restaurant,” she said. “Many elderly individuals with Dysphagia have difficulty finding a means to prepare their own modified meals at home.”

The sisters decided to do something to help their community, combining Grumley’s knowledge of diet modifications and Carnovale’s cooking skills. The two began going through Cooper’s menu, categorizing foods within specific categories like regular, mechanical soft or puree.

“With some simple modifications like not toasting the bread on a sandwich, she can prepare her entrees so that they are safer and easier to chew,” Grumley said.

The sisters decided to offer a delivery service, too, which is how Cooper’s on Wheels came about.

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“We want to be able to reach as many people in our area as possible with this service,” Grumley said. “We will distribute the meals frozen, in microwaveable containers with heating instructions, and include nutritional information for each entree,” she said. “Multiple meals can be purchased, stored frozen and used as needed.”

The food will be “molded” to look like regular food to promote eating with dignity and make it more appetizing, Grumley said.

“Additionally, we will be providing pre-thickened liquids in single servings, which can be purchased with the meals,” she said.

Some with severe Dysphagia need softer food, so thickened liquids can prevent aspiration of food or liquid into the lungs, Grumley said.

The menu will change each month, and orders are placed on a pre-pay basis. Cooper’s on Wheels will deliver to St. Marys, Johnsonburg, Ridgway, Emporium and DuBois. Visit Cooper’s Diner on Facebook for the link to the order form, schedule of delivery dates and menu. Contact coopersonwheels@gmail.com with questions.

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