Over 800 Meals on Wheels volunteers are traveling around Alamance County to deliver meals to seniors, families, and other individuals who are currently homebound due to the coronavirus pandemic. Social distancing and isolation has created an increased need for residents to receive meals and aid.
Amanda Bartolomeo, the executive director of Alamance County Meals on Wheels, is working with volunteers to adapt how they provide food. Recently, Meals on Wheels has created new policies to help keep volunteers and food recipients safe during the pandemic.
New policies include weekly deliveries where residents are receiving five frozen meals in a single day instead of daily hot meals. Volunteers are also being provided masks, gloves and hand sanitizer. When delivering food, volunteers are being advised to leave meals on front porches and wave at clients through the door.
Alongside volunteers, Bartolomeo has been able to witness how residents in the community feel when they receive a meal from Meals on Wheels.
“All of our clients are very thankful for the meal delivery, not only the meal delivery, but to have the volunteer come by and check on them,” Bartolomeo said. “It really just brightens their day."
After the Friendship Adult Day Center in Burlington closed temporarily on March 20th, Bartolomeo reached out to the organization and asked if residents wanted to participate in the Meals on Wheels program. Meals on Wheels has been able to deliver weekly meal packages to ten residents associated with the Friendship Adult Day Center.
Shelby Nichols, a member of the Friendship Adult Day Center, is one of the residents who now participates in the Meals on Wheels program. Through volunteers’ prompt weekly deliveries, she is able to receive food and care.
“I feel very appreciated that they thought of me as one of their clients, and they are very kind and generous,” Nichols said.
Meals on Wheels is expanding its mission beyond delivering food by connecting their clients with other nonprofits. Partnering with other agencies has helped clients to get home aid and needed resources while they are staying at home.
“Our community is really a tight-knit community that works together and wants to make sure that not only are we providing the service that they need, but also connecting them to resources of other things that they might could utilize to help,” Bartolomeo said.
As clients are continuing to experience a heightened demand for aid, Meals on Wheels is looking for more volunteers. Anyone, including Elon students, faculty, and staff can sign up to be a volunteer. Volunteers are in charge of delivering meals to others and are assigned specific routes with different drop-off locations throughout the community.
Past service opportunities include the “Feed the Children Drive Thru Event and Donations” held on May 9th at Pureflow Inc. Meals on Wheels partnered with several organizations — including the Alamance Burlington School System, SAFE Alamance, and Dream Align Ministries — to give food donations to needier clients and families.
Meals on Wheels has also hosted donation drives such as the “Christmas in July” which was collecting items for their food pantry and birthday gifts for clients. They were in need of more items since they had been providing every client with a birthday gift and giving food to 50 clients who had been identified as in-need.
“We’re just trying to put on new clients as soon as we can,” Bartolomeo said. “And if they have any situation where things have changed related to COVID, we’re trying to be flexible and try to just get those clients on and make sure that anybody that needs food that we take them something right away because we don’t want anyone to go without food during this time.”