GALLIPOLIS — As area residents continue to take precautions surrounding concerns with the COVID-19 Ohio outbreak, Gallia Senior Resource Center drivers and kitchen staff continue to provide meals to seniors of the county in need.
According to kitchen staff member Beth Sheets, around 115 meals were delivered to seniors Tuesday. Numbers may vary depending on whether a senior client may be going to a doctor’s appointment or have another obligation for the day. Hot meals are delivered most days throughout the entirety of the county and then frozen meals are shared with clients for days that drivers aren’t delivering.
Kitchen staff receive menus prepared by a nutritionist in advance for the month of meal deliveries. Meals are delivered Monday through Thursday.
Kitchen staff begin packaging meals in plastic in an assembly line fashion around 9:15 a.m. after cooking. Drivers then stack meals inside portable heaters that connect with a vehicle’s automobile power socket, sometimes called a cigarette lighter socket, to power the heaters.
“I got 19 (meals) today,” said driver Randy Carpenter. “We go all over the county through different routes… We take it to their door and see how they are. Sometimes we might be the only person they see all day.”
Carpenter said most of the meal deliveries were completed during the morning hours of the day.
“Sometimes you’re in and out a littler quicker and sometimes depending on what kind of mood they’re in you might chat with them for awhile,” said driver Tim Petrie. “I enjoy it and I like it. I’m retired so it gives me something to do in the mornings and feel needed and I like the people. I enjoy dropping their meals off and chitchatting for a minute or two and seeing their smile and moving onto the next one.”
According to Gallia Senior Resource Center Executive Director Shirley Doss, the center serves around 130 clients in the home meal delivery program.
“We cover all of Gallia County for people 60 and older who qualify for the home-delivered meal program,” said Gallia Senior Resource Center Administrative Assistant Danette McCabe. “We talk about the different things that people are doing now that this pandemic is here. During this pandemic, our staff has not missed a beat. The meals are still being delivered. The folks are still helping… Our seniors are still able to live in their own home independently and safely.”
“We’re doing more than just delivering a meal,” said McCabe. “We see this person so then we can also check on this person. If our drivers see a problem, they let their supervisors know unless it’s an obvious emergency. Then they call 911.”
Doss and McCabe also lauded the efforts of the center’s home care department.
The senior resource center started in 1973 and has roughly 40 employees, both part-time and full-time.
The center serves as a socialization hub for a variety of community groups and events but primarily focuses on the senior community. While the center is currently closed to the public during COVID-19 precautionary measures, the center usually holds monthly Monday dinners which often serve as birthday celebrations. The center hosts educational classes for seniors, loved ones and staff that focus on topics like falls prevention and increased quality of life techniques.
For those who qualify for such programs, the center also has a day program where seniors may meet and hold pool tournaments, art classes, crochet gatherings, card games and more.
Dean Wright is a staff writer with Ohio Valley Publishing and can be reached at 740-446-2342. © 2020 Ohio Valley Publishing, all rights reserved.