Meals on Wheels

Connie Murray (left) and Ingrid Chacon (right) waited for 14 volunteers to help them with Milestones’ Meals on Wheels program on Thursday. Christina Wolfe, Milestone’s nutrition supervisor, said more volunteers are essential especially since lots of elders are staying inside their homes due to the COVID-19 virus.

OTTUMWA — Milestones Area Agency is looking for volunteers to help with their Meals on Wheels program.

The program allows homebound seniors who are 60 and older to get meals delivered to them. “Community support has been great,” according to Christina Wolfe, Milestone’s nutrition supervisor.

“We’ve had 25 volunteers and numerous phone calls,” she said, “the need for food and service is rising. I was very surprised by the amount of interest going up.”

Volunteers deliver the meals during the weekdays, typically from 9 a.m. to noon. If they aren’t able to work those shifts, they can coordinate alternative times with Wolfe.

Before the virus outbreak, it was a struggle even getting drivers. In turn, it affected the seniors. Around 60 elders had to be put on a waiting list and some were not able to get meals because they had no drivers to deliver them. With 135 people being served, Wolfe said she could still use more volunteers.

Wolfe said help from Connie Murray, the Ottumwa area program coordinator, has made a difference. “None of this would have been able to happen without the help we had from her,” she said, “without her ... we would be lost.”

“The staff and drivers have had no problem pitching in and stepping up,” she added. “I was so surprised for the need. I was surprised by the community for their support and for no complaints.”

Wolfe said since more people are staying home because of the virus, the program became a “much more needed service.”

The service had to make some changes. Drivers had to take extra precautions because of the pandemic. Volunteers knock on the door, place the meals outside and step back six feet away. They also use gloves and hand sanitizer.

The change in the delivery system has been a hard adjustment on Wolfe, and is something she hopes does not last long.

“It was different before because now there is no contact,” Wolfe said, “before [the outbreak] seniors get to the door and it’s the only friendly face they see all day. Now they don’t have that. I feel bad, but it’s just the way it is.”

Even if elders are homebound, Wolfe recommends family members and friends to stay in continued contact with them.

“A lack of communication can cause loneliness,” she said, “which can turn into depression. Do what you can to help them, whether you choose to call them or drop off food — do it. If people have resources and family, I am asking that they utilize them so that we at Milestones can help those that are truly in need.”

At this time, Milestones is looking for more volunteers and accepting donations for hand sanitizer, gloves and masks. To donate or for volunteer information, contact them at (855) 410-6222.

Chiara Romero can be reached at cromero@ottumwacourier.com.

Chiara Romero can be reached at cromero@ottumwacourier.com.

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