Meals on Wheels has continued to provide a much-needed service to Niagara-on-the Lake residents throughout the pandemic.
Like everything else, though, meal delivery has been adjusted to ensure safe dropoffs.
Erica Lepp has been a volunteer for Meals on Wheels for 14 years, and sees first-hand the differences.
Typically, pre-pandemic, Meals on Wheels volunteers could serve not only a nutritious meal, but a friendly face, five days a week, says Lepp.
“It’s also a kind of wellness check,” she says. Volunteers get to know their clients, can take a few minutes to chat with them, and if they have any concerns about health issues, will pass on the information so the appropriate people can be notified.
“During COVID times,” Lepp says, “Meals on Wheels has been offering the same great hot meal and frozen meal deliveries, direct to homes, but they have adapted their protocol so the delivery is contactless and safe. It is a great way to get hot meals to those you love, that may not be safe to visit.”
Volunteers drop the meals at the door in a single-use bag, and watch from the car to ensure recipients receive them. “We give them a wave from the car, instead of the usual hello and small talk we used to enjoy with them.”
Meals on Wheels are available for delivery to anyone in NOTL, Lepp says. “Meals are affordable, balanced and delivered with love.”
The hot meals are prepared and packed by staff in a hospital kitchen, under the supervision of dietitians, with delivery Monday through Friday between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Frozen meals can also be ordered, and will be delivered on Tuesdays, around noon.
There is always a need for volunteers to deliver meals in NOTL, Lepp says. Volunteer deliveries take about two hours, and those interested in helping can sign up for as little as once a month.
This week, with a little help from her friends, Lepp was also delivering gifts to her 11 clients.
It began with David Watt of The Garrison House, wanting to do something to help seniors, asking her about delivering some gifts to long-term care homes.
Lepp learned that wasn’t possible — nothing was being allowed in the homes because of COVID-19. “So I suggested we offer the gifts to the seniors in NOTL who receive Meals on Wheels.”
Through her years of volunteering, she has come to know her clients, who are experiencing the feeling of isolation, unable to have family visits, or even chat with volunteers delivering their meals. “The goal of our delivery was simply to brighten the day of members of our community who may be feeling isolated during this time of COVID, and let them know we are thinking of them.”
The gift boxes included blankets, activity books, preserves, toiletries, dental products, teas, lotions, a signed novel from a local author, tea towels, fresh baked bread, banana bread and more. Some of those who have donated gifts are Watt of The Garrison House; Paul Harber of Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery; Ryan Crawford of Ruffino’s Pasta Bar and Grill; Del Rollo of Arterra Wines; Dr. Kim Johnston of Stone Road Dental, J’Neene Marchese of Flexo Products, Catherine O’Donnell of Willow Cakes and Pastries, Betty Wong, Emily Fieguth, Helene Carriero, and Andrew Harber and Shawn Spiewak of Abatement Technologies.
Anyone interested in volunteering for Meals on Wheels can contact the Niagara Falls Meals on Wheels office. For more information visit to http://www.mealsonwheels