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Meals on Wheels deliveries triple during COVID-19 pandemic in Hampton Roads

Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia says they're serving thousands of meals per week.

NORFOLK, Va. — The number of elderly people needing dinner deliveries through Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia's Meals on Wheels program has tripled because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Director of Development & Community Relations, Debbie Schwartz said the pandemic is hitting senior citizens, especially hard. 

“We do meals on wheels deliveries and since the start of COVID, our provision of meals has tripled,” Schwartz said. “Since COVID began, we have been providing 3,000 meals per week and usually it’s 1,000.” 

For some south Hampton Roads residents who rely on Meals on Wheels for lunch and dinner, it’s the only hot food they’re getting throughout the day.  

“I spoke to a lady a couple of weeks ago who said to me, without the two meals you bring me every day, I wouldn’t have anything else to eat," Schwartz said. "It’s because not only is she elderly, she is disabled and can’t get out of the house.”

Schwartz said the pandemic is also affecting a lot of other work her volunteers do, like home visits. Under normal circumstances, volunteers would stop by the homes of elderly residents and sit and chat.

“Do what friends would normally do for friends, but during COVID, these people are getting phone calls," she said.

As the coronavirus pandemic wears on, Schwartz said senior citizens are especially vulnerable to isolation. These phone calls, in addition to the dinner drop-offs, helps fight loneliness and helps volunteers identify any issues. 

“Like the lady I spoke about. If I had not spoken to her personally, I would not have known," Schwartz explained. 

Schwartz said senior services has partnered with Beth Shalom Village to help handle the added people needing food from Meals on Wheels; and they have a dedicated team of volunteers who deliver food to senior citizens.  

“It’s been amazing. We’ve had a tremendous outpouring of interest from volunteers, they are still coming out every morning they go over to Beth Salmon, they line up in their cars, they take meals and drive off," Schwartz said. 

But they are always open to more help. For more information on how to volunteer visit ssseva.org

If you need meals delivered to your home, you can also contact Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia via their website.