Local nonprofit Meals on Wheels People has continued to make 8,000 meals a day throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
The nonprofit meal program for seniors saw an increase of about 3,000 meals a day (up from 5,000) near the beginning of the pandemic as the isolation and economic turmoil of COVID-19 began to affect more and more in the community.
Director of Public Relations and Communication for Meals on Wheels People Julie Finley said the organization anticipates the increased demand for food to last through the first couple months of 2021.
“We won’t see the vaccine for a while and we are anticipating all these people that we are feeding will continue to stay home,” she said. “We will continue our friendly chats program and continue to send out food as normal.”
The Friendly Chats Program was started earlier this year as a way to give seniors in the community social interaction during a time when family members and friends are staying in their “bubbles” to limit the spread of COVID-19. The chat program has volunteers call up older adults in the community to have conversations and talk for a few minutes or a couple of hours, depending on the volunteer.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, volunteers called up their friends and talked about the holiday while enjoying classic Thanksgiving fare such as turkey, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce.
“This way our seniors weren’t completely alone on Thanksgiving,” Finley said, mentioning that the Friendly Chats Program has been well received by both volunteers and seniors in the community.
For the Christmas holiday, Finley said the program does not traditionally deliver a meal on Dec. 25 and won’t this year either. However, they are still planning to send out a festive meal of ham, vegetables and a “fancy dessert” to those in need the week prior to the holiday. As for the chat program over Christmastime, Finley said it is not guaranteed volunteers will call seniors on Dec. 25; however, if any of the 1,000 volunteers wish to do so, they can call and chat with however many people they would like.
Along with delivering a traditional dinner around the holidays, the nonprofit’s restaurant “The Diner” will be offering a traditional Christmas dinner for takeout with all proceeds going to creating and delivering meals through Meals on Wheels People. The Diner was opened a few years ago as a way for the nonprofit to raise money through a dining experience. Prior to the pandemic, community members would visit the restaurant and order traditional diner fare with funds going to the program.
Seniors in need throughout the community can eat a healthy and balanced meal at The Diner for free.
Since the pandemic has affected indoor dining, The Diner has offered takeout family meals to people in the community wanting to support the program. For the Christmas holiday this year, The Diner is offering a “Christmas Dinner For Four” (with additional servings as an option for larger families) that includes 3 pounds of honey glazed ham, scalloped potatoes, cornbread casserole, ciabatta rolls with butter and roasted vegetables.
Along with the main course, the restaurant will be offering two pies — pecan chocolate and apple — as a dessert option as well as mimosas by the glass.
Orders can be placed anytime through Monday, Dec. 21, online at thediner.org/christmas or by phone at (360) 859-3338.
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