As Coronavirus Isolates Seniors, Meals On Wheels Appeals For Help

March 19, 2020
Grand River Meals on Wheels volunteer Mary CranorGrand River Meals on Wheels volunteer Mary Cranor Courtesy Grand River Meals on Wheels
Grand River Meals on Wheels volunteer Mary Cranor

As the Mountain West braces for more coronavirus cases, one community service has become even more vital: Meals on Wheels.

Meals on Wheels is among the services that can't just stop when there's a crisis. A lot of seniors depend on the home-delivered meals that the nonprofit provides. Kaaren Peck, the director of Meals on Wheels at Grand River Health in Rifle, Colo., says her organization is having volunteers take extra precautions right now.

"Basically, put hand sanitizer on, deliver the meal, go back to the car and put hand sanitizer on again," Peck said.

And instead of handing the meal to the senior citizen at home, the volunteer puts it on a chair or table outside.

Curt Leitzinger and his wife are volunteer meal deliverers. They decided to increase their hours in response to the crisis, especially because they're in a rural community.  

"We just think it's important to continue that contact just to make sure that people are not being completely isolated," Leitzinger said.

Meals on Wheels America says calls for healthy, young volunteers, and for donations to support programs, have seen a strong response.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.