HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — The Meals on Wheels program continues to get out on the streets and provide food for seniors.
While they haven’t missed a day of delivering meals, the program sees a seasonal shortage of drivers. There is a particular need right now for service in Holland and southern Ottawa County.
“Over the winter months, we especially have more of a hardship because many of our volunteers are retirees themselves and they go south for the winter. So that creates an empty slot around this time that is even more drastic throughout the year,” Kris Collee, executive director of AgeWell Services, said.
AgeWell Services offers various assistance for seniors in Muskegon, Oceana and Ottawa counties.
Its Meals on Wheels program serves approximately 1,300 meals a day to homebound seniors who can’t get out of the house or don’t have enough resources to cook.
There are about 42 routes across three counties. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the number of seniors who have needed meals delivered to their homes has grown.
“It’s concerning because we all had our eyes on the fact that our baby boomers were going to enter this phase where they would need additional support,” Collee said. “Combine that with the pandemic in which social isolation has deeply affected our elders in ways that are more unique than usual.”
President of Meals on Wheels Western Michigan Lisa Wideman says her offices serves Kent and Allegan counties.
The program hasn’t had to pause service. While the need is ongoing, they are also trying to grow its volunteer base in those two service areas.
Collee and Wideman are urging the community to volunteer and help deliver meals so participants can get the food that they need. Since the pandemic, there has been a contactless delivery system.
Volunteers don’t enter the home and interact with the participants though they can still create relationships that can make the work more meaningful.
“There are not many opportunities where you get to see and interact with the individual that you are affecting change with,” Collee said.