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Amid COVID-19 pandemic, Meals on Wheels dutifully rolls on

Posted at 5:46 PM, Mar 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-28 13:15:48-04

CINCINNATI — As Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio governors ask people to stay home, organizations like Meals on Wheels are seeing a larger demand for their services in local communities.

The local branch of the organization said it's seen a 50% increase in demand in just one week. In any normal week, Meals on Wheels deploys around five to 10 volunteers to deliver meals to seniors throughout the Greater Cincinnati region. Currently, that number has increased to around 100 volunteers a week, all working to make sure people in Cincinnati's neighborhoods are still getting fed.

The organization has also implemented different rules to follow social distancing recommendations, which changes their game a bit.

"Obviously there are risks for everybody involved now," said Matthew Braden, a delivery driver for Meals on Wheels who's worked with the organization for the past five years. "And it seems a lot more serious a job than it might of before."

Meals on Wheels has seen double the normal demand as seniors are either unable or are afraid to leave their homes to shop for groceries. Fortunately, the organization spent the last month preparing for this.

"We'll deliver almost 5,000 meals today alone, which is a staggering number," said Jennifer Steele, executive director of Meals on Wheels. "The need has just dramatically increased."

United Way and The Greater Cincinnati Foundation helped provide Meals on Wheels with an early cash infusion, helping to purchase more non-perishable, shelf-stable food. The organization is now making new, 14-day boxes filled with staples like crackers, soup, applesauce and more, all intended to last someone two weeks.

"I'm certain it will save lives in the coming weeks," said Steele.

She said the organization expects the need to continue rising in the coming weeks, but is confident that Meals on Wheels will be there and able to answer the call.

"This is America, you pull together and you do what you do," said Braden.

Anyone interested in receiving Meals on Wheels services for themselves or a loved one can reach out to the organization for support.