The staff at Beacon Community Services are busy packing up nutritious meals for seniors, one of the Capital Region’s most at-risk populations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s a way to fill the gaps left behind by the pandemic, explained Glenys Cavers, director of volunteer and senior services for Beacon Community Services, as many meal programs have been put on hold because of the coronavirus.
“This is a way of us identifying seniors who are at risk and making sure they have a nutritious meal,” she said, noting many of these seniors are making smaller meals that are quick and convenient instead, like tea with toast.
The program is being offered through a partnership between United Way and Beacon Community Services, using funds from the federal government’s new horizons for seniors program.
“[It’s] an age group that may be more apt to isolation at the best of times,” said Mark Breslauer, CEO of United Way Greater Victoria. “So the pandemic with physical distancing and stay at home being so critical, this has been compounded.”
Seniors will be given the choice of which three meals they would like for the week. They’ll have options like meatballs and pasta, cabbage rolls with roast potatoes, lamb curry and rice, and beef stew. Volunteers and staff will put together the packages and then deliver them right to their front steps.
“The volunteers come out, they ring the doorbell, the senior comes to the door,” said Cavers. “At that time the volunteer takes a big step or two back so they’re six to eight feet away. And then they have a little conversation at the door.”
This conversation is a unique part of the program, Cavers added. It’s one of three wellness checks volunteers will be doing throughout the process to make sure the seniors are healthy and well.
The funding United Way received will be able to sustain the program for a few months, with deliveries of 1,000 free meals per week.
“The need is far greater than that, but this is a wonderful start,” he said, adding the hope is to continue the program well after that funding runs out.
“Beyond several months from now, we start to look longer term, and our appeal will be to the community to support this effort to build and provide this much-needed nutrition and social contact for our seniors.”