Like many non-profit organizations, Meals on Wheels has seen a reduction in the number of people volunteering for their service. Much of the downturn in volunteerism is related to the COVID pandemic that has led to more people working from home.
“What we’re trying to do is sort of build back from the volunteer loss that we experienced because of COVID with that shift to work from home,” Erica Brown, Project Manager for Meals on Wheels said. “We lost a lot of corporate volunteers that way and now even in the corporate world, people tend to come into the office Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. So, Mondays and Fridays are still a challenge for us. In addition, some older people volunteers didn’t feel comfortable going out into the community. Now with vaccines and everything, that seems to be getting better so for retired people who have time on their hands in the middle of the day that wants something meaningful to do with their time is who we are looking for.”
According to Brown, Meals on Wheels delivers more than 1,000 meals per day. Her office is located in New Castle County and serves from Claymont to Middletown. The volunteer opportunities include delivering meals to those who need them. Volunteers use their own vehicles and, although there is no mileage reimbursement from Meals on Wheels, there can be a tax deduction for miles used for charity.
“The only qualification to becoming a Meals on Wheels volunteer is a vehicle and the desire to help others,” Brown said. “Many corporations are now allowing employees to volunteer their time during work hours. We would love to have those employees come help us take meals to those in need.”
Meals on Wheels provides food to seniors who may have no family nearby. Families are living farther away and neighbors may be strangers for some elderly people. With the pandemic, senior citizens have been even more isolated due to concerns for their health and safety. This has led many to struggle with nutrition, something that Meals on Wheels can assist with. In fact, during the pandemic, Meals on Wheels provided more than $31 million to support local communities with meals. In most cases, the meals are just delivered to the front door, but the service also provides other benefits.
“Every client is going to be a little bit different,” Brown said. “There could be that drop off at the front door for the person who can get to the door. There might be someone else who has some more mobility issues that they’re not going to be able to get to the door. So, there might be some people where it’s like knock and walk in and leave it on the table situation. Especially for the people who live alone, the volunteer who brings a meal might be the only person that they’re going to see all day. So it is just that little bit of a visit and interaction, a human connection in addition to the meal.”
Meal delivery is Monday through Friday at lunchtime and only takes about an hour and a half. Anyone who is interested in volunteering for Meals on Wheels can contact them at www.cityfare.org.
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