Today marks one month since we made the decision to change how we deliver service to our vulnerable senior neighbors. It seems like yesterday, and also years ago, that my team gathered in our conference room to detail all the “what if” scenarios in order to be prepared for what could potentially happen with this worldwide pandemic. Fast forward one month and we have indeed checked all the boxes from our first list. The team is now strategizing on the next round of possibilities. The greatest challenge is finding the balance between being in the moment and planning for our unknown future.
I would like to stress (again) that we remain committed to continuing to provide meals to our most vulnerable community members, including the increased demand. As of today we are serving 1,396 more people than we did a month ago. While there are a lot of unknowns, we anticipate this surge in need and meal production will continue through the summer. That means months of self-isolation for older adults. It is hard to say when life will go back to normal or when those who have chosen to stay home will feel safe enough to venture out.
We continue to meet the growing need for meals. Our Central Kitchen staff has done amazing job of turning out nearly 7,000 meals daily – compared to 5,000 daily a month ago – and has been nimble enough to incorporate unexpected donations. Here is a list of just some of what has come into our Central Kitchen in the last few weeks:
- 4,140 dozen eggs from Willamette Egg Farms
- 3,200 pounds of fresh sliced mango from Reser’s Fine Foods
- 3,700 pounds of frozen pork from ProPack
- 24 pallets of snack packs and 6 pallets of Gatorade from PepsiCo
- 40,000 frozen vegetarian entrées from Quorn Foods
We would not be able to accomplish the work we do without our dedicated community members. At the onset of this crisis, we put a call to action for volunteers to register to help us deliver meals. Wow – we had an overwhelming response! More than ,1800 people registered to volunteer! If you were one of the newly registered volunteers, we thank you for your patience as we work through the process.
I have also been touched by the number of companies that have approached us with unique partnership opportunities during this time to support our efforts. Some of these include:
- Stoller Winery is donating a percentage of sales from specific wines for the month of April and May
- NW Natural selected Meals on Wheels People as one of four charities to participate in an all employee giving campaign
- Portland Gear is donating $2.50 from each sale of the PROUD t-shirt
- Rose Hip Medic Collective provided hundreds of bottles of hand sanitizers for our volunteers
- Going the Social Distance Relay selected Meals on Wheels People as the beneficiary of their “race”
Times are uncertain and stress levels are rising all around us, but we are confident we all possess the skill, talent, commitment and passion to weather the storm. Thank you for showing up and being a Hero in our community each day!
If you would like to make an additional donation to see us through these uncertain times, please visit our webpage at mowp.org/donate. Every gift will be used to meet the increasing needs of those we serve during this crisis.