By Linda Dillman
The coronavirus pandemic is not stopping the village of Obetz from taking care of its senior citizens who cannot visit the community center for a hot meal twice a week.
On Monday and Thursday, the meal comes to them.
“Most of the people who we deliver to were already attending senior meals prior to the pandemic,” said Parks and Recreation Director Kerri Duffy. “When we were first shut down, we made weekly check-in calls to our members to see what their needs were at that time. We were able to identify the individuals who could not make it out of the house or felt unsafe doing so. Those were the people we began delivering to.”
Prior to the pandemic, meals were planned on a monthly basis and a menu calendar was distributed to center members, as well as posted on the village of Obetz website.
The community center has provided the service for many years and only asks for a $2 donation.
Seniors chose which meals they planned to attend and called the center to sign up.
“The lunches were served on Mondays and Thursdays at noon at the Obetz Community Center,”said Duffy. “We typically received anywhere between 15 and 30 people per lunch, depending on the meal served. We also had a few individuals who couldn’t make it in person, so we would deliver to them each week.”
The doors to the community center closed in March and remain closed to the public. Duffy said to keep the community safe and healthy, the village continues to operate the food pantry, senior transportation, and senior meal operation throughout the duration of the pandemic.
However, modifications were necessary in order to continue programming and include staff member health assessments before coming to work. Senior meals are delivered to front doors instead of serving them at the center and senior transportation is by appointment only.
Staff members wear masks whenever they are driving seniors to doctor appointments or making grocery deliveries, the van only transports one senior at a time and is disinfected between uses.
In addition, the food pantry is operated by appointment only. Bags are prepared ahead of time and residents pick up their food at the curb.
When asked how the community is responding to the new procedures, Duffy said, “Overall, the response has been positive. Most people understand that these types of changes are happening everywhere. These programs provide necessary care to those who need a little extra help, especially now, when many have lost their jobs or illnesses keep them inside and isolated. It’s more important than ever to look out for our neighbors and loved ones. These programs will help keep our community safe and cared for.”
Duffy said Obetz and Hamilton Township residents can call 614-496-6119 if they are unable to make it out of their house and need a meal delivered to them.