Coronavirus pandemic isn’t pumping the brakes on the Oswego County Meals on Wheels program

Local News

OSWEGO COUNTY, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — For our hundreds of seniors, a trip to the grocery store is risky right now. That’s where the Oswego County Opportunities Nutrition Services and the Office for the Aging comes in.

Taking care of seniors has always been at the core of the Meals on Wheels program, a collaboration between OCO Nutrition Services and the Office for the Aging. Now, the need is even greater.

“Meals on Wheels, our catchphrase is always, you know, it’s more than a meal,” said Lori Halstead, the coordinator for the OCO Nutrition Services Program.

It’s also a wellness check and sometimes, the only interaction they’ll have all day. With the coronavirus pandemic, our vulnerable population is even more isolated.

“They’ve been pretty much stuck in their home because they’re scared,” said Sara Sunday, the Aging Services administrator for Oswego County.

To protect clients, drivers now leave the meals right outside the senior’s home instead of hand-delivering them.

“The client goes and gets the meal and just stands there and just waves to the driver, it’s you know, it’s so heartbreaking,” said Halstead.

Since the pandemic started, they’ve seen a 25 percent increase in home deliveries. They’ve been able to keep up with them but one of the challenges is still giving seniors the socialization aspect of the program. Activity centers that once brought seniors together are now operating as a drive-thru.

“We’ve started putting together some activities that the seniors can do, so when they pick up their meal they can pick up a little activity to take home,” said Halstead.

They’ve also started a Friendly Caller Program to check on seniors. So far, they’ve made 3,300 calls. It’s a simple thing Halstead says anyone can do for their family members and loved ones.

“Reach out to your elderly neighbor is really the way people can help,” said Halstead.

The Office for the Aging is accepting donations for its food pantry. You can drop off non-perishable items Monday through Friday in the donation bin outside the center:

Office for the Aging
70 Bunner St
Oswego, NY 13126

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