The Meals on Wheels program in the Tillsonburg area is finding new ways to service the community during the pandemic.
“It’s doing really well right now,” said Kaitlyn Cormier, MSC Special Services Coordinator, noting the Meals on Wheels program benefited from government funding.
Funds were used to subsidize meal prices for seniors, and/or clients with a disability, which are currently about half price at $3.25 (from $6.75). Currently, about 60 people are on the daily (Monday-Friday) hot meal list.
“Right now, I think people call and ask what meals are available.
“Anybody who does not want the hot meals delivered, we also have the frozen meal program. So if you’re not home at a specific time during the week, but you still want healthy meals provided, we have different vendors.”
Frozen meals are prepared weekly by Hometown Country Market in Mount Elgin, The Kneaded Knook in Straffordville and Enchanted Eats in Tillsonburg. MSC volunteers deliver the frozen meals to client homes on Wednesdays. They currently have about 40 people who also benefit from the subsidized half-price frozen meals.
“When the pandemic started, we thought why don’t we deliver these frozen meals to people? And because we had people on the hot meal wait list, the frozen (meals) took off.”
The weekly frozen meal program requires fewer volunteers, which makes it easier for MSC to deliver.
The Multi-Service Centre also offers a grocery program that started up during the pandemic.
“We use Metro for that,” said Cormier. “Clients call and they give us their grocery orders so they don’t have to go into a grocery store. We write it up in an email and send it to Metro. Metro gathers up all the food on a Wednesday and our volunteers go pick it up and deliver it to the client.
“That (delivery) is free of charge at this point,” Cormier noted, “so they just pay for the food.”
During the pandemic lockdown phase, volunteers delivering meals do not go into a client’s home. Clients leave a box or cooler outside the door for deliveries.
“We knock at the door, place the meal in the cooler/box, we step back and wait until they come out and know they got the meal. The volunteers wear masks and use sanitizer, and we also gave out free masks to all of our clients.”
Deliveries are made in Tillsonburg, Straffordville and Norwich, with different food suppliers and volunteers for each centre.
Every year, for the last few years, the Tran family in Tillsonburg has paid for all the meals on Valentine’s Day, for all the Meals on Wheels seniors in town.
“I think this is our fourth or fifth year doing it, so it’s close to our hearts,” said Phuong Tran, who made a delivery last week with her dad, Steve Tran. “So it’s been our thing every Valentine’s Day, we sponsor the meals.
This year they added a Valentine’s Day bag of treats (chocolate, candies and cookies) to go along with each meal delivered Friday, Feb. 12.
“I used to deliver meals through CIBC and I just thought it was just something we could do as a family,” said Phuong. “We thought it was a great idea and it was received really well.”
Phuong can take credit for the timing of their annual Meals on Wheels donation.
“I picked Valentine’s Day because it’s my favourite holiday,” Phuong laughed. “Plus, Valentine’s Day usually rolls around the Chinese New Year, so it’s like our good deed to start the New Year.”