Meals on Wheels Rolls with COVID-19 Changes to Continue Serving Older Adults and Adults with Disabilities in Saint Paul
Jack Munsell signed up in February to pack meals for other volunteers to deliver to Wilder Meals on Wheels customers in Saint Paul. Then the novel coronavirus upended life as Minnesotans know it.
Wilder Meals on Wheels made rapid changes to make sure that volunteers could safely deliver meals to adults who have difficulty cooking and preparing meals, or have health conditions, disabilities or limited mobility. Meanwhile, the diner where Jack worked in Minneapolis closed due to COVID-19 concerns, giving him unexpected free time. Now Jack volunteers for Meals on Wheels at the Wilder Community Center for Aging almost daily.
“It’s a little more rushed and a little more fluid,” Jack says. “It’s more like, this is what we’re doing today and who knows how we’re going to be rolling tomorrow. But the bottom line is we’re serving people who need it—and that’s always been the case.”
Meals on Wheels Switches from Hot Daily to Frozen Weekly Deliveries for Safety
Meals on Wheels, part of Wilder Healthy Aging and Caregiving, helps older adults and adults with disabilities improve their nutrition and health, strengthen their sense of well-being and safety, and remain as independent as possible. During the COVID-19 pandemic, when older adults and people with underlying health conditions are advised to stay home, regular deliveries of affordable, nutritious meals are a lifeline. Volunteers who deliver Meals on Wheels are considered essential in Minn. Gov. Walz’s stay-at-home order.
“Meals on Wheels matters now more than ever,” says Christine Miller, Wilder Meals on Wheels coordinator. “While some of our volunteers stepped back because they were considered at risk, others stepped up to take their place. We are so grateful to our volunteers for their dedication and flexibility.”
To help everyone involved stay safe, Meals on Wheels has reduced in-person contact between staff, volunteers and customers while still providing nutritious meals and social and wellness checks. Starting March 23, a majority of Meals on Wheels customers now receive frozen meals weekly. Staff and volunteers pack meals for delivery on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Meals on Wheels Continues to Meet Community Needs
When Meals on Wheels volunteer Gina Fruncillo went to the Community Center for Aging to start her delivery route one recent Monday, she was heartened to see that staff member Fred Everson had plenty of help. The COVID-19 related changes meant she had a different route, and she delivered batches of frozen meals to each customer.
“Obviously it feels more remote, but I’m really excited that we can still meet the needs of people in the community,” says Gina, a real estate agent who has delivered meals for Wilder for two years. “At a time like this we have to remember that we’re human and we have to take care of each other.”