The South Central Human Resource Agency runs approximately 20 different programs from Head Start/Early Head Start to the Senior Nutrition Program. Many of our programs not only welcome volunteers, but depend on them to be successful.
The Senior Nutrition Program is one such program that is dependent upon volunteers. The program itself is a huge daily undertaking during normal times.
There are 19 sites across our 13-county region that normally serve or deliver a hot meal five days a week, as well as frozen meals for some clients. Typically we serve, on average, 6,100 meals a month through the congregant program and 9,000 meals through the delivery program each month.
Now, dealing with COVID-19 and all the issues that have come along with it, the program is having to work out a new normal.
The Giles County Senior Center, on average, serves 61 seniors congregant meals that would come out to over 200 meals a month and deliver to our 35 homebound clients approximately 600 meals a month. Due to the State lockdown, we had to close the congregant meal site for those seniors and move those that wanted delivered meals to that side of the program, while also opening a pick-up option for those seniors who are mobile.
In January and February, we delivered 1,277 meals. On March 2, the congregant site closed down and our delivery numbers for March and April jumped to 1,410. In May, the number went to 853. While May did go down, we are expecting to rebound and anticipate numbers to increase.
We expect this trend to continue as more seniors are needing assistance and all of our meals are being delivered if they cannot be picked up.
Volunteers play an integral part in this program. All of our meals are delivered by volunteers to our seniors and homebound clients.
The importance of these meals for the seniors in Giles County cannot be underestimated. We have many seniors whose only face-to-face communication on a daily basis is that of the person who delivers them a hot lunch each day. This type of isolation during normal times is difficult, however, now it is even more so. These volunteers who give of their time are making sure that their neighbors are doing okay and can be a lifeline during this difficult time.
A number of our dedicated volunteers are seniors themselves who are considered at risk, and therefore had to give up their delivery routes. We are in need of new volunteers to make sure that the seniors and homebound neighbors in Giles County continue to get these important meals each day.
Besides giving of your time, the volunteering is simple. You show up at the Giles County Senior Center, pick up your meals for that day’s delivery, deliver the meals and return the ice chests to the Center. It normally takes about an hour from beginning to end and you deliver to the same people each time.
You choose how many days a week or a month you can deliver and our site manager will fill you into a slot. Our site managers make sure all meals are ready to go when you arrive, ensure you know where you are going and who you are going to see and are waiting for you when you are done. It really is that simple.
As someone who has a route myself in Lincoln County, I can attest to how important it is to make sure those meals are delivered and how grateful those neighbors are when I pull up. I have come to treasure my little bit of time I get to spend with who I now consider new friends.
If you or someone you know would like to help out, call SCHRA Deputy Director Sara Brown at 931-433-7182, Ext. 1150, or email Community Advocate Patricia Keenan at email@example.com.