For several months, WCCA’s Food Security and Aging Alliance teams have been working with Catholic Charities to add a frozen meals component to the Mobile Food Shelf (MFS). Catholic Charities prepares and packages the meals, while WCCA distributes and stores them. In February, the very first frozen meals were added to the regular MFS deliveries to three senior independent living facilities. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and congregate dining facilities were forced to close, seniors needed access to frozen meals more than ever.
WCCA staff jumped into action to find freezer space throughout the community and to formulate delivery methods that could reach seniors outside of the prearranged facilities. Trailblazer Transit, the local public transportation provider, has used this opportunity to keep their drivers employed while their regular requests have decreased due to the Stay-at-Home order. WCCA is also collaborating with other local food shelves to distribute frozen meals from other food shelves to guarantee accessibility.
Catholic Charities continues to prepare and package the frozen meals as quickly as possible but the need has been high. As of April 15th, over 850 seniors were registered for the program and are receiving meals. In one week alone, WCCA was able to deliver just under 5,000 meals while maintaining proper social distancing practices.
In addition to providing frozen meals, we are working with some participants to pick up groceries from the stores and deliver them to their homes. We are also using the preexisting Mobile Food Shelf program to deliver our food shelf services to those who live outside of the regular living facilities that the program usually serves. Overall, these programs have allowed the WCCA a unique opportunity to connect with this underserved population. While the staff is enrolling clients in the program, they check on other needs, provide referrals, and generally ensure the well-being of the clients. We hope that the connections with staff and the volunteers are providing a level of social connectedness that is difficult to maintain during this unprecedented time.
Find us online: