Meals still on wheels during COVID-19

Meals on Wheels volunteers Darrin and Jen Utley, Lynn McGeachy, Judith Lacina, Chris Appleton, and Doug Dolsen pracitse safe distancing before heading out to deliver meals in the area.

By Bruce Corcoran

Even during the realities of self-distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, the meals remain on wheels.

The Chatham and area Meals on Wheels program continues to deliver about 300 meals a week to its clients, said Mindy Jenner, resident and client relations manager with St. Andrew’s Residence, from where the program is run.

She said the pandemic has led to the temporary loss of several volunteer drivers, but others have stepped up to fill the void.

“A few volunteers decided they couldn’t do it. They didn’t feel safe. But we have quite a few new volunteers who stepped up. Our board members are delivering meals,” Jenner said. “It’s business as usual.”

That means, three times a week, the kitchen staff at St. Andrew’s Residence prepare 100 or so meals and volunteer drivers deliver them to clients in the area.

Jenner credits the dedication of the program’s volunteer base for delivering during these difficult times.

Speaking of delivery, “business as usual” changes at the point of delivery, Jenner said.

“We are using contactless delivery service. We knock on people’s doors to deliver meals. We have the meals in a plastic bag. We step six metres away from the door and wait for the resident to come and get the meal,” she said.

Some Meals on Wheels clients are leaving coolers out for the drivers to place the meals in as well, Jenner said.

As for folks living in apartment buildings, they come to the front door of the building to accept the meals, when possible, keeping the drivers from having to enter the building.

For anyone in need if the Meals on Wheels program or to learn more, call 519-351-6325.

If anyone is looking to volunteer, you can also call that number.

“St. Andrew’s Residence is continuing to be a strong provider for seniors outside our residence,” Jenner said.

The Meals on Wheels program is a community support service subsidized by the Erie-St. Clair LHIN.

“We believe that we have a role within the community to care for seniors. Our clients are some of the most vulnerable in times like this and we are so thankful to our volunteers for their support in keeping this vital service available when it’s needed most” said Jessica Smith, Executive Director.


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