Amid COVID-19 concerns, Lubbock Meals on Wheels has found ways to continue serving the Lubbock community while still abiding by social distancing.
Mary Gerlach, assistant director of Lubbock Meals on Wheels, said volunteers currently serve over 850 people in Lubbock, and it is important for them to continue serving meals daily.
“The people that we serve are homebound, so basically, they can't leave the house without assistance," Gerlach said. "They're unable to stand at a stove long enough to prepare a balanced meal and there's nobody there at home at the lunch hour that can do that for them.”
Though the majority of those served are older, she said they serve people of all different ages. All are of a vulnerable population already and even more so when considering concerns of COVID-19.
Gerlach said while getting meals delivered is important, volunteers of Lubbock Meals on Wheels are providing even more than that to the people they serve.
Through providing lunchtime meals regularly, volunteers are able to check up on those they serve. If volunteers notice something when they are out delivering meals, they can report it to Lubbock Meals on Wheels staff who will be able to call and check on them or find resources that might help those people if they are in need.
“They go out and follow those directions and deliver those meals and check on people, you know, just by virtue of being there giving them the meal. If they notice something's wrong or if a person tells them that they need assistance with something or if somebody's not there that didn't cancel so we thought they were going to be there,” Gerlach said.
In addition to this, she said delivering meals has given people peace of mind amid concerns of COVID-19.
“People appreciate just being able to say hi to somebody and with everything that's going on, you know, and several of them either asked if we were concerned," Gerlach said. "They just wanted a little reassurance.”
With concerns of COVID-19, Lubbock Meals on Wheels has taken extra precautions on top of those already in place to ensure volunteers can continue being able to deliver meals to those in need in Lubbock.
Lisa Gilliland, executive director for Lubbock Meals on Wheels, said they are always following the precautions everyone is being told to follow in the recent weeks to combat the spread of COVID-19.
“We always do a lot of cleaning and sanitizing," Gilliland said. "We clean the delivery coolers every day regardless and volunteers are always instructed to not deliver if they are ill in anyway, if they are running a fever or don’t feel well, because obviously we’re dealing with people that have medical issues.”
In addition to this, Gilliland said Lubbock Meals on Wheels has a cleaning crew coming in on the weekends to provide extra sanitizing for their space as well as a new drive-thru system for their volunteers to further abide by social distancing during this time.
“Fortunately, when we renovated our building, we put that (drive-thru) in, and so we were able to use that starting this week to limit everyone’s exposure but still get the daily meals delivered,” she said.
Laura Williams, a volunteer and board member of Lubbock Meals on Wheels, said before concerns of COVID-19, the volunteers would usually enter the building to pick up the meals and socialize before going out to deliver.
Williams said while this was an additional aspect that was valuable for the volunteers, the new drive-thru plan set in place will protect the staff, volunteers and the people receiving meals from Meals on Wheels.
“So, I would say the majority of the volunteers are seniors and retired, so for some of them this has been social thing for them as well as a volunteer thing,” Williams said.
Williams said she will continue delivering meals, along with many other volunteers, because she recognizes how important it is for so many people and what a difference it makes for those receiving meals.
“They're so grateful just to have somebody come check on them every day and get a meal,” she said.