COVID Crisis Doubles Need for Hungry Seniors
(AUBURN, CA) – The current COVID-19 crisis has shone a spotlight on just how quickly someone can find themselves without food. Seniors are no different. With many isolated under stay-at-home orders, families separated to decrease the risk of infection and local food banks depleted, seniors that never needed services before are now in need. In fact, applications for meal delivery from Seniors First, Placer County’s only senior-focused service organization and provider of Meals on Wheels, have more than doubled in recent weeks.
Over 400 clients are served in Placer County per day through Meals on Wheels, with more added every day. This increase comes at a time when many of Seniors First’s volunteer delivery drivers, some seniors themselves, have been sidelined due to COVID restrictions. “What used to be considered a convenience or a matter of safety has now become a basic need for so many. Without volunteers, we simply cannot meet the demand of these seniors that are alone and hungry,” lamented Seniors First Executive Director Stephanie Vierstra.
“This program absolutely saves lives,” Vierstra added. “We know that some seniors are in the position of having to decide between paying for food or medication, rent or utilities. We also know that seniors that do not regularly receive adequate nutrition are more susceptible to illness, depression and quality of life issues. Meals on Wheels is just one way we try to combat these issues, with menus prepared according to senior nutrition guidelines and delivered by a friendly volunteer.”
Even with family nearby, work schedules, lack of transportation or other limitations can leave seniors hungry. “Prior to receiving Meals on Wheels, my mother had lost 15 pounds due to lack of proper nutrition. The daily contact of a meal delivery has been truly lifesaving for her,” commented the daughter of a client in Colfax.
Said one volunteer, “The Seniors First staff makes it so easy. I have it on my weekly calendar, make a quick stop at the kitchen to pick up the meals and my list of deliveries, and I’m off. I love zipping around town knowing I’m brightening someone’s day.”
Vierstra notes that volunteers create their own schedules and are eligible for mileage reimbursement. Safety standards have always included hand sanitization and gloves, but the organization is taking additional precautions during the health crisis.
As the elderly population in our region continues to grow, Seniors First staff understands that this increased demand for its programs will most likely continue. Experts estimate that Placer County’s elderly population will proportionately grow with the total population, directly affecting the service need of Seniors First.
If you or someone you know would like to get involved, please call Seniors First at (530) 889-9500.