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Meals on Wheels Seeks Volunteers for Deliveries
 
Tuesday, August 4, 2020

On March 13, 2020 when the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center decided to keep the community safe by shutting down most programs on campus, the Meals on Wheels team quickly changed its protocols so that the 400 plus homebound seniors in our community would not miss a meal.   

The J’s Meals on Wheels program navigated through the pandemic by stepping up, minimizing delivery gaps and serving more meals now than before. Not only did the J significantly increase the number of clients being served, but has gone above and beyond by providing microwaves, can openers, weekend meals, and groceries. The community has continued to support these efforts by making monetary donations as well as donating pantry items to supplement standard hot meals. 

“To ensure the health and safety of staff, volunteers, and clients during this pandemic, the Meals on Wheels team implemented new delivery protocols that include limiting the number of staff in the packing room, requiring masks for packing and delivery and providing a drive through line for volunteers to pick up meals. This helps to minimize social interaction and reduce the number of people in the building,” said Kari Stein, Meals on Wheels Program Coordinator.

As a result of COVID-19, there is a growing waitlist for those that need food. Meals on Wheels’ goal is to eliminate food insecurity while also keeping homebound seniors safe. “In just four months, we have served 42,847 meals to seniors in our community and have added 74 new clients, “ Stein continued.  

The program is primarily supported by volunteer drivers. On a weekly basis, approximately 50 volunteers deliver hot and shelf stable boxed meals on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. However, many of the regular volunteer drivers have reluctantly stepped back during this time, taking coronavirus precautions. 

“Every week members of our community have volunteered their time to ensure that the seniors who live in our neighborhoods are not forgotten. As the summer comes to an end and once again, the schedules of our volunteers change, we are in need of new volunteers,” said Morgan Steinberg, Senior Director of Cultural Arts & Community Connections. 

Volunteer drivers must be 18 years or older. Families and children are welcome, and volunteer hours can be used toward community service requirements. Meal pickup is at 10:30 AM on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and volunteers have the option to come once a week, several days per month, or whatever works with their schedule.

“I started volunteering for Meals on Wheels this summer because I needed community service hours for high school at Emery/Weiner. From volunteering, I have realized how much the seniors depend on this important service. They really appreciate the delivery and the social interaction which brings a smile to all of our faces. Since I need my mom to drive me, it has been a fun bonding experience for the two of us. I’ve learned my mom is very good at following Google maps. I have enjoyed volunteering for Meals on Wheels this summer. I hope to continue volunteering during the school year,” said Alex Leif.    

“Our Meals on Wheels program is one of only six that have continued serving hot meals multiple days of the week, and we want to be there for our clients but we need your help,” stated Steinberg. 

To learn more about Meals on Wheels and to sign up to volunteer, visit www.erjcchouston.org/meals. For more information, please contact Kari Stein at kstein@erjcchouston.org or 832.408.3532.


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