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Meals on Wheels Prepared for Serving the Most Vulnerable during COVID-19 Pandemic

Local News 18 Mar, 2020 Follow News

Delivering meals and smiles to the seniors in our community (MOW Stock Photo)

Change for Change Coin Drive collection buckets will sit empty for now amidst halted fundraising efforts due to COVID-19

Jennifer West, General Manager for MOW receives a car full of supplies, donated by Rum Point Restaurant

By now we all know that with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) the most vulnerable are our elderly and those with underlying health issues. For us at Meals on Wheels this brings great concern because many of our clients are both elderly and infirm; this disease puts them at an even greater risk, however what they need more than anything else now is to have proper nutrition, sanitary conditions and safeguarding. Jennifer West, General Manager for Meals on Wheels states, “No population is at higher risk from the Coronavirus (COVID-19) than the vulnerable seniors who depend on Meals on Wheels to deliver meals and services. We are working closely with government agencies and information services to stay on top of our ever changing situation.”

Board Chairman, Rob Imparato confirms, “We are striving to continue to provide meals to our seniors but it will get harder and harder due to lack of human resources and financial restraints. We have had to postpone our first fundraiser of the year, the Change for Change Coin Drive and will likely have to do the same with our largest annual event, the “Orange You Glad Gala”, currently scheduled for May 9th. During a time when requests for service are likely to increase as seniors are urged to stay at home, not having these events will greatly impact our ability to serve our seniors.” He encourages the community to support the seniors in whatever way they can during these difficult times. With many establishments facing their own difficulties, MOW representatives praise the selflessness of Seven Fathoms Cayman Spirits who have provided hand sanitizer for volunteers to carry while they deliver meals. Rum Point Restaurant, who is having to close its doors during this time and donated fresh fruit, vegetables, milk, buns and other perishable items that have been distributed to the 4 district kitchens and will be used in this week's meal distribution.

The MOW service model is about much more than just delivering a meal, it’s also about social interaction and checking on people. Ms West confirms that “we need to continue to provide meals without compromising their health. All volunteers who have travelled or been in close contact with anyone who has travelled in the past 15 days have been rotated off the delivery rosters for a period of at least 2 weeks, the same is true for anyone who has any flu-like symptoms. Extra measures have been implemented and will continue to increase including distance during delivery or wellness checks with the seniors and although supplies are a challenge we have been doing our best to maintain a supply of hand sanitiser, gloves and lysol spray for steering wheels, door handles and car interiors for volunteers.” MOW will continue to do whatever is necessary to protect our vulnerable seniors while ensuring that they receive the nutrition and services they need. Ms West went on to explain that a part of the organization's contingency plan is in partnership with Mise en Place and Boxed who are prepared to provide enough frozen meals that we would like to deliver for seniors to have meals for a few days or up to 2 weeks worth of meals. Many of our seniors have special dietary needs and Mise en Place have been a wonderful community partner who caters to all those needs on an individual basis.

One of the major issues that MOW Chairman, Mr Imparato highlights is that “not all of our seniors have access to a kitchen or even a microwave, there are also others who are unable to eat solids. Many are housebound and others live alone leaving them unable to access much needed products.” In maintaining day to day operations while also planning for the uncertain short-term and long-term changes ahead, Ms. West and her team are prepared for the worst while hoping for the best. In a measure of preparedness for MOW seniors, the organization is hoping to put together what Ms West calls “MOW COV-KITS”, these would essentially be grocery bags that contain items that do not require cooking and other essential products, specifically for the nearly 30 seniors who are without kitchen to heat a meal; other seniors would be provided with goods that would enable them to make additional meals due to the increasing need to isolate while living alone. Meals on Wheels has provided a list of the items would be most needed, donors are asked to keep in mind that many seniors or diabetic or suffer from hypertension so low sugar and low sodium products are requested for the most part.

• Sliced bread

• Bread rolls/bulla/bun

• Peanut butter

• Jam/Jelly

• Crackers (saltiness, water, Ritz, premium)

• Pre-cooked sliced meat (turkey)

• Sliced cheese

• Corned beef

• Vienna sausages

• Tuna (in water)

• Canned beans

• Canned corn

• Cup a soup

• Corn flakes cereal (or other low sugar)

• Long life milk

• Evaporated milk

• Fruit cups

• Ensure

• Peppermint tea

• Ovaltine

• Soy mix

• Vitamin C

• Oatmeal packets

• Juice boxes (100% juice)

• Microwave ovens (in good condition)

• Blenders (personal size, in good condition)

• Hand sanitizers/Hand Soa

• Depends (Women's M & L and Men's L)

Organisers have announced that from Thursday, March 19th through Tuesday, March 31st a donation drop off box will be available Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11am to 2pm at 1428 Trafalgar Place, West Bay Road on the ground floor. All items will be sanitized prior to packing and distributing to seniors.

We recognize that everyone is facing their own personal economic challenges during this very uncertain time, however, for just $5 you can ensure that we can continue to serve the seniors we serve and that no one is left hungry or isolated, in line with isolation and social distancing, we encourage donations be made online through Bank of Butterfield direct deposit to Cayman Islands Meals on Wheels or via www.pledgeasenior.com. Should you have questions or require further details please contact Meals on Wheels at 769-1974 or info@mealsonwheels.ky.

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