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Agencies Step Up Meal Delivery As Hunkered-Down Seniors Go Hungry

A meal delivery by the Council on Aging of Southwestern Ohio in late March. 70,000 meals were delivered this day.
Council on Aging of Southwestern Ohio
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A meal delivery by the Council on Aging of Southwestern Ohio in late March. 70,000 meals were delivered this day.

Over the past several months, the COVID-19 shutdown, and the resulting economic fallout, has exacerbated southwest Ohio’s hunger problem into a full-blown crisis. Schools have mobilized to feed tens of thousands of students. The National Guard is helping to staff overwhelmed local food pantries. And programs that deliver meals to homebound seniors are seeing a surge in need as well.

Paula Smith is the Communications Manager for the Council on Aging for Southwest Ohio. She says, once the governor’s isolation orders were issued, the number of people reaching out to her organization for help skyrocketed.

“We began hearing from older adults who have never before needed our services,” she says. “They were heeding the governor's orders to stay at home. And frankly, they were afraid and anxious to go to the grocery store.”

Smith says the Council has been ramping up its Home Delivered Meals program. She says they were already home-delivering meals to more than 7,000 seniors. In the past couple of months, they’ve delivered another 15,000 emergency meal boxes.

Now, she says, with the state opening back up, providers like the Council on Aging are bracing for the next wave of infections — and need — to come.

If you’re aging and you need some help, you can find local community services through the Ohio Department of Aging. Their phone number is 1-866-243-5678. Or find more information at Aging.Ohio.Gov/FindServices