Meals on Wheels of Syracuse serving more people in need during the pandemic


SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Meals on Wheels of Syracuse is reporting a more than 20 percent increase in deliveries during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s a service that’s been around for years but is seeing increased need because of a lack of accessible food for homebound individuals like seniors who can’t leave home and people with a disability now forced to live alone.

“We’ve increased the number of clients. We’re up to 500 clients where were are typically about 400,” said Community Relations Director Michael Nortman.

The new clients have been mostly connected by Onondaga County’s food help hotline and while the meals are still being put together by dedicated hands, for safety they’re just in smaller numbers.

“We’ve limited the number of volunteers we allow in the kitchen now we used to have twenty people in the kitchen we’ve limited it down to six volunteers and we’ve gone to two shifts,” Nortman said.

Meals on Wheels of Syracuse has also switched to frozen meals to allow a shift in deliveries from five days to three. Drops are now contact-free, adhering to social distancing, and employees and volunteers are taking new safety precautions.

“We check the temperature of every volunteer and staff member to make sure there is no fever and not indicate that they’re sick,” Nortman said.

If those precautions were not enough however and the kitchen ever needed to close, Nortman explained that another part of their pandemic response has involved prepping two to three weeks of meals, which are being stored in a large freeze truck.

“I think we’re going to find our client base increases because the need has been out there but the pandemic has kind of brought that need forward,” said Nortman.

A rush of volunteers has been lending a much needed extra hand but the hope now is that comradery continues even after the pandemic.

If you’d like to help out Meals on Wheels of Syracuse volunteering is great but Nortman added monetary donations also go a long way.

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