By Jasmine Hsu
Hamilton County’s Meals on Wheels program is crucial for many individuals who depend on the meal delivery service, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We mostly serve folks who are seniors, or those of any age that are dealing with some sort of disability, something that doesn’t allow them to prepare their own hot, nutritious meals,” said Beth Gehlhuasen, executive director of Meals on Wheels Hamilton County.
The meals are assembled, placed into coolers and delivered to homes by volunteer drivers. As the number of people depending on the meals increases because of the pandemic, so does the need for drivers. Service requests increased by 48 percent between March and May, according to the organization.
“We are looking for folks who are willing to give us about an hour to an hour and a half of their time,” Gehlhuasen said. “Our minimum is that people commit to doing it once a month. Our routes can be going anywhere in the county.”
Those interested in volunteering must fill out an application form, complete an online training course and work with the organization to determine a personalized delivery route and schedule.
Along with moving the training online to promote physical distancing, the exchange of meals also has been modified to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“Everybody wears masks. We give all of our volunteers hand sanitizer, and they sanitize anytime they deliver a meal, afterwards and beforehand,” Gehlhausen said. “We’re really trying to follow all of the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s) guidelines and all of our state department’s health guidelines.”
Upon arrival, drivers leave the cooler containing the food on the doorstep, return to their vehicle and call the client to let them know they have arrived. They tell recipients what’s in the cooler and ask how they are doing.
“It’s a pretty simple procedure and doesn’t take a lot of time,” Gehlhuasen said.
To learn more or volunteer, visit mealsonwheelshc.org.