COLORADO, USA — Meals on Wheels is on track to deliver more meals in 2020 than over the previous 10 years as food insecurity across Colorado is on the rise.
The federally funded grant program delivers meals to homebound seniors over 60.
According to Vanessa Clark, a spokesperson with Volunteers of America, this year Meals on Wheels is serving 1,000 more meals per month than it did last year.
Before the pandemic, it was estimated that one in seven Coloradans was experiencing food insecurity. Clark told said the Food Bank of the Rockies now believes the number could be one in three.
Meals on Wheels relies on volunteers to provide meals to homebound seniors. At the beginning of the pandemic, they saw a shift from volunteers who were younger seniors and newly retired to younger Coloradans.
"A much younger demographic really raised their hand and said they will take on Meals on Wheels route to help a vulnerable senior in their area," Clark said. "The Colorado community is really incredible."
She estimated the program received more than 1,000 volunteer inquiries early in the pandemic.
In addition to a shift in demographics, Meals on Wheels altered protocols as many of those receiving meals are in groups considered to be most vulnerable to COVID-19.
"Now it's our process for the volunteer to ring the doorbell, leave the meal on the front step and then step back," Clark said. "The volunteer can still wave and greet the senior at an extreme social distance."
They also screen volunteers as they arrive to pick up meals and sanitize all shared vehicles.
Even with the increased demand, Clark said they are able to meet the needs of the community and will continue to do so.
"We will adjust and we'll be here to serve the need as long as it takes," she said.
Clark encouraged anyone considering giving back to their community to do so by donating their time or resources like food or money.
"There are a lot of charities right now that are really struggling, and there are a lot of individuals in our community who are struggling," she said.
Those who'd like to donate or volunteer can find more information here on their website.
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