Serving home meals doesn't stop with virus
Last updated 4/4/2020 at 5:40pm
SPOKANE COUNTY – Greater Spokane County Meals on Wheels is in need of coolers, ice packs and volunteers to bring meals to over 1,000 participants — many who are over age 60.
In a March 30 press release, GSC Meals on Wheels said the closure of their 12 Silver Cafes — where mobile seniors come and enjoy a fresh-cooked meal — due to COVID-19 restrictions has reduced nutrition options for those seniors. One of those cafes was at the Cheney Care Center's Sessions Village Commons.
GSC Meals on Wheels say they have subsequently shifted entirely to a delivery system to get meals — which are made from scratch each morning in the organization’s Spokane kitchen — to those in need. That has necessitated the need for additional methods of keeping those meals fresh, hence the call for coolers an ice packs.
GSC Meals on Wheels is looking for coolers, plastic or Styrofoam, that are large enough to hold packaged food that can be left on doorsteps, about 16 inches by 14 inches. They are also in need of reusable ice packs to keep food fresh.
“We will automatically clean and sanitize the coolers and ice packs no matter how they look,” GSC Meals on Wheels Director of Development and Communications Janet Dixon said.
Part of what the organization provides is also social interaction for seniors. In the past, that has meant greeting seniors with a handshake or a hug and a daily check of their well-being.
Social distancing requirements enacted to slow the spread of the severe acute respiratory disease has obviously changed that, and Dixon said they have retrained volunteers to keep their distance and how to conduct health checks from 6 – 8 feet away.
But the organization serves seniors over the entire 1,800 square miles of Spokane County, including serving 30 on the West Plains. Over 350 volunteers are needed to serve meals on 47 current routes, along with some new ones. Compounding the problem is the organization’s current volunteers fall into the risk categories for COVID-19.
“Our volunteers base is older,” Dixon said. “The average is probably 70 and they are in the high risk groups so many of them are temporarily staying home. We've added five more routes, times that by five days per week, and are adding more as more people come on board.”
GSC Meals on Wheels is not affiliated with the Meals on Wheels program based in Spokane. GSC does not refuse anyone over 60 living Spokane County the opportunity to sing up for the services for any reason.
GSC Meals on Wheels is also experiencing difficulty with its supply routes, or more to the point, it’s meals on those routes.
“We are constantly having to change menus due to the fact that are suppliers are having difficulty getting food and/or getting it delivered,” Dixon said.
If interested in volunteering with Greater Spokane County Meals on Wheels, call the organization at 509-924-6976, or go to GSCMealsonWheels.org for more information.
John McCallum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.