Pasadena Meals on Wheels has served our community since 1964 “dedicated to helping the disabled, aged, ill or convalescing to live healthier, more nourished lives so they can remain independent in the comfort and security of their own home for as long as possible.”
The organization is familiar with food insecurity and the precarious situations of vulnerable seniors who are unable to shop and cook for themselves. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and Pasadena issued its “Safer at Home” orders, Meals on Wheels was ready to respond. Within days, they added 50 new stops to their delivery routes.
“We typically receive one call per week from social workers trying to set up food delivery for their clients,” said Patti Feldmeth, Pasadena Meals on Wheels Executive Director. “Now we receive up to five calls in one day.”
A COVID-19 Emergency Response grant from Pasadena Community Foundation supported Meals on Wheels as they maintained and expanded their food delivery services, covering the increase in the number of clients served and the cost of meals per person.
Pasadena Meals on Wheels cites Monday April 6, 2020 as the day that things really changed. St. Vincent Meals on Wheels, which prepares the hot and cold food for delivery, transitioned to a frozen-only meal system, sending five meals per person once a week. This change meant that clients were not going to get enough food each day, so Meals on Wheels activated its relationships with grocery stores and distributors to supplement their meal deliveries with bags of shelf stable, prepared foods, fresh fruit, oatmeal, cereal, milk, crackers, and other essentials.
The organization continues to rely on an extensive volunteer network to deliver its meals, although drop-offs are reduced to one per week to minimize contact. Even their older volunteers who chose to stay home are still helping by making weekly safety calls to the seniors on their usual routes, many of whom often just need to talk.
Reliable volunteers, knowledge of the existing food needs among seniors, and immediate access to low-cost food resources made Meals on Wheels an ideal candidate for a PCF COVID-19 Phase One Emergency Response grant, which provided support to nine local organizations working to distribute food and supplies to two immediately vulnerable groups: seniors, and low-income individuals and families.
Today, Pasadena Meals on Wheels has doubled its client count and expects that this rate will continue as long as “Safer at Home” is in effect.
“Our service is not just dropping off food. We see people every day that face the challenges of isolation. This is nothing new to us. Knowing that someone cares, is checking up on them, and is there to reach out to if they are frightened during this scary time is just as important as the food we bring,” said Feldmeth.