This story has been corrected to show that the university is augmenting ongoing meal services at senior centers.
SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — Underclassmen and grad students aren’t on campus, so the University of Rhode Island’s dining services team is feeding seniors.
That is, senior citizens.
Senior centers around the state have had significant increases in requests for meal delivery from patrons. The state Office of Healthy Aging reached out to the university for ideas, according to URI spokesman Dave Lavallee. Since nearly 6,000 URI students are no longer eating on campus due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the food — all purchased in advance of the semester — is now going to those who need it.
“This is a way to sustain our workforce while at the same time doing something altruistic for some of the most vulnerable people in Rhode Island: the elderly and immuno-compromised,” said Pierre St-Germain, URI’s director of Dining Services, in a news release Monday.
The employees normally dishing up food to students are now packing 500 meals each weekday and delivering them to senior centers from Cumberland to Westerly, bringing a serious boost to the services the centers are providing.
Rosamaria Amoros Jones, the director of the Office of Healthy Aging, expressed gratitude for URI’s efforts on behalf of the senior centers and the people being fed.
“[It’s] helping to ensure older adults, who are at higher risk for severe illness, have the supports they need to stay healthy and safe at home during this time of physical distancing,” she said.
“In this crazy time, I am glad we can do something like this,” URI food service supervisor Gwendolyn “Wendy” Pugh added. “It feels good because people are struggling.”