MUSCATINE, Iowa–For many seniors, meals on wheels provides the assistance they need to stay in their homes. This has proven even more true than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic, when older people and those with underlying health conditions have avoided stores to stay healthy.
It takes many volunteers to ensure that meals on wheels can deliver food to everyone who needs it. Because some regular meals on wheels volunteers had to stop doing so when the pandemic came because of health concerns of their own, Senior Resources found themselves in need of more volunteers.
Vision 2020, a partnership between Crossroads, Muscatine Center for Social Action, the Muscatine Welfare Association, and Senior Resources, found a way to fill the need for meals on wheels volunteers. Since Crossroads reopened over the summer following the COVID-19 closures of the spring, they wanted additional volunteering opportunities for their day-habilitation clients. Providing meals on wheels through a new contactless format provided a good option for them, beginning in September.
Once or twice a week, volunteers from Crossroads deliver meals on a designated route of 10 to 12 houses. On occasion, the day-habilitation volunteers also pick up an extra delivery route if other volunteers cannot take it as scheduled. At each house, the volunteers leave the meal in a consistent location. The recipient can then come out and get it once the volunteers have left. In many cases, seniors grab their meals before the volunteers drive off, allowing them to wave and socialize just a little bit from afar. If anyone notices meals that did not get picked up in a timely manner, Senior Resources performs well-being checks to ensure that the recipients gets any additional care they need.
Initially, the Crossroads day-habilitation clients started their volunteering on a trial basis. However, their help proved so popular that they quickly joined the ranks of go to volunteers. Both volunteers and recipients have enjoyed the collaboration. Interim Deputy Director of Vision 2020 Megan Francis shared: “This has been a fantastic partnership. Especially during the extended mitigations for COVID-19, we have been challenged on the best way to provide safe and beneficial services for clients for both organizations, so the opportunity to work together for safe delivery of both day-hab and Meals on Wheels Services is a win for everyone.”
As an organization, Vision 2020 continues to look for other partnerships between its member organizations to help them run more efficiently and sustainably and to assist them in helping more people throughout the community. Other collaborations include having Vision 2020 CEO Cheryl Plank serve as the CEO of Crossroads and Senior Resources as well and sharing MCSA janitorial services with other members.