“A friendly face makes such a difference in my quiet days”
Since Charles’s wife passed away three years ago, he has been living alone in his home of 40 years, taking care of the yard work, groceries, cleaning, laundry, you name it. At 84 years old, you can imagine he needs a little help. But Charles said he is concerned about having others in the house because of COVID-19.
“I worry about others not taking the pandemic seriously,” he said. “I wish people would follow the rules and wear their masks.”
Since the pandemic started, Charles has stayed at home and limited his visitors. His daughter comes by once a week to help with his medications and things around the house, but otherwise the only visitors he sees are the volunteers from Meals on Wheels of Wake County.
“Meals on Wheels was able to help me out at the beginning of the year, when I didn’t have anyone else to ask. My daughter lives 30 minutes away and just doesn’t have enough time in the day to visit with me and help more,” he said. “The Meals on Wheels team stops by to see how I am doing and look after me. The gentleman who drops off my food each week always takes time to chat with me and takes good care of me. I feel blessed that they bring me food each week and that I don’t have to leave the house.”
The Meals on Wheels program is focused on providing nutritious meals to people 60+ who are homebound or would otherwise be unable to obtain a balanced meal.
In March of 2020, Meals on Wheels had to make changes to their daily hot meal service. Instead of daily drop-offs, they transitioned to a frozen meal delivery plan. Each week they deliver seven frozen meals to all 1,400 clients in Wake County. In 2020, they also included over 39,000 pounds of fresh produce.
In an effort to help seniors remain independent and healthy, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina invested $500,000 with Meals on Wheels of North Carolina. The funds helped to purchase items like refrigerators, freezers, packaging, and healthy food. Additionally, the investment helped supplement delivery costs, PPE, temporary staffing support, and items needed to keep volunteers and staff safe.
Due to COVID-19, Feeding America projects over 17% of our neighbors in North Carolina will experience food insecurity. That means more demand for Meals on Wheels, which serves over 400,00 meals each year.
Food insecurity isn’t starvation. Instead, access to food is limited and unpredictable. People with too few resources or no access to grocery stores, like Charles, might rely on inexpensive unhealthy foods, ration portions or skip meals altogether.
With programs like Meals on Wheels, older adults in Wake County are able to maintain their dignity and independence. They’re also given regular, nutritious meals delivered to their homes by a friendly face.
“I give Meals on Wheels an A+ for the changes they made during COVID-19 to make sure I still have a healthy meal,” Charles said. “I always look forward to the weekly visit from the gentleman who drops off my food. The volunteers look after me, and a friendly face makes such a difference in my quiet days.”