Meals on Wheels continues to deliver food to needy during pandemic
by MICHAEL E. POWELL
Gaston County’s Meals on Wheels program carries on a proud tradition started, according to program director, Selina Pate, since 1972.
Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic, its services are even more in need; some would say, in demand, than ever before thanks to Governor Roy Cooper’s stay-at-home directive.
When asked how the COVID-19 situation has affected what they do for shut-ins and senior citizens, Pate said not much has changed.
“The Meals on Wheels program continues to deliver hot meals Monday through Friday to our homebound participants.
“Staff and volunteers follow the essential protocol for the safety of all during meal delivery; six feet social distance when delivering meals, bagging the meals and leaving at the door with the participants knowledge, using gloves and hand sanitizer.”
She noted the congregate meal sites are closed through May 15, due to COVID-19.
“However,” she added, “we serve frozen meals to our congregate participants.”
Pate said the frozen meals are a five-day package of meals delivered to their congregate participants every Monday.
“We have several volunteers who choose not to deliver during COVID-19 – mostly our older volunteers – but we have many people calling to ask how they can help during this time.
“Most calls are coming from people who are working remotely from home or college students who are home and studying online.”
For those who may wish to volunteer, Ms. Pate noted they should check out the Gaston County website at www.gastongov.com, and search ‘Meals on Wheels’. Said Pate, “There is a link for all MOW information and an email address if someone is interested in volunteering. Also, a person can check the Meals on Wheels Facebook page at Gaston Meals on Wheels and More.”
As far as where does the program get their supplies is concerned, Pate said, “The Meals on Wheels program contracts with the caterer – TRIO, located in Charlotte. The caterer prepares the meals in their commercial kitchen; the meals are trayed and sealed; and TRIO delivery drivers deliver the meals to the meal sites on two different routes. The caterer is also contracted to provide the necessary supplies needed for program use.”
The program normally feeds, on any given week or month, approximately 300 participants daily between homebound, congregate, and frozen meal participants, Pate noted.
When asked what someone could do if they wanted to donate money or food, she replied, “There is an option to donate online through the county website Meals on Wheels page, or checks can be made, payable to Gaston County Department of Health & Human Services (memo for Meals on Wheels), and mailed to Gaston County DHHS, c/o Meals on Wheels program, 330 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Gastonia, NC, 28052.
Pate added that food can be donated to the Adult & Aging Services Division, Meals on Wheels located on the 4th floor of the DHHS building in Gastonia.
For more information on this and other helpful Gaston County programs, she said to call their office at (704) 862-7833, or fax them at (704) 862-6670.