Demand for ‘Meals on Wheels’ service triples due to coronavirus

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ With thousands of elderly Rhode Islanders stuck at home due to the coronavirus pandemic, food delivery service Meals on Wheels tells Eyewitness News that they’ve seen a significant uptick in service.

Meghan Grady, executive director of the non-profit organization, said they usually serve roughly 1,200 seniors daily. But Grady said that number has tripled because the number of people opting to stay home has skyrocketed.

“This week, starting Monday, we added an additional 2,500 meals every day,” Grady said. “That brings us to a total of 3,700 meals a day that are being delivered statewide.”

Grady said as the demand for service increases so has the willingness to help. In the past two weeks, she said more than 200 Rhode Islanders have reached out to volunteer with the organization.

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She said their job is to not only provide a meal for seniors but to also provide a safety check and, because of the outbreak, volunteers are also being told to practice social distancing by calling their clients before their delivery to check on their health status.

“We are also screening all of our seniors for any type of cold or flu symptoms. If a senior exhibits any of those symptoms, we are then leaving the meal at their door,” she explained. 

As of now, Grady said she doesn’t anticipate Meals on Wheels services will be disrupted because of the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act,” which was passed late last week. The act will provide additional funding for the non-profit to meet the increased need at this time.

“Just knowing that we’re helping keep seniors happy and safe in their homes during this difficult time for our world really makes us proud,” Grady said.

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The state is also helping the younger population with grocery delivery as well, especially those who are sick or in self-quarantine.

Gov. Gina Raimondo said the state has partnered with Rhode Island-based Roch’s Fresh Foods to launch a food delivery service to provide groceries to those who can’t leave their house.

“If you’re stuck at home because of the quarantine, we want you to stay at home,” Raimondo said. “But, we want you to eat and be healthy.”

Anyone who would like to access the service can do so online, or by calling 211.

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