Meals on Wheels & More continues to provide meals and care packages to disabled, elderly and homebound Morgan County residents, but it is operating with fewer volunteers and delivery days because of the pandemic.
"We continue to deliver a hot, nutritious meal in addition to a care package each Wednesday," said Cindy Anderson, director of community services for the Community Action Partnership of North Alabama, which operates Meals on Wheels. "The weekly care package contains items that our meal recipients can easily prepare/heat up — soup, crackers, oatmeal, fruit bars/cups, Vienna sausages, peanut butter, jelly, fresh fruit and vegetables.
"We plan to gradually increase the number of hot meals delivered each week. However, this is dependent upon the pandemic."
To aid in sustaining the local Meals on Wheels program, The Decatur Daily will accept financial contributions in February for Meals on Wheels, which has a projected budget for 2021 that is $23,000 less than three years ago but is the same as 2020. The February appeal for Meals on Wheels raised more than $21,000 in 2019 and increased to $26,966 in 2020.
Anderson said many of the program's usual volunteers have had to discontinue participating, at least temporarily, because they're in groups considered at high risk for complications from the coronavirus.
Last year the program had 56 volunteers per week. That total had dropped to 18 as of last week. Delivery days changed from five days to one day per week. The number of residents served fell to 254 each Wednesday from 300 per weekday.
Kitchen manager "Shontez (Wynn) and her team have been awesome about trying to stay in touch with our regular volunteers," Anderson said. "Unfortunately, a lot of our volunteers themselves are in that high risk and so they ... hated it, but they had to stop delivering for their own safety and well-being."
The appropriation from United Way of Morgan County dropped from about $123,000 in 2020 to $110,000 for 2021, said Anderson. Meals on Wheels had a budget of about $300,000 in 2018 and dropped to approximately $295,000 in 2019. Last year's budget was about $275,000 and this year's budget is projected to be the same.
Wynn said care packages to be included with meals are put together on Tuesdays.
"Each week we alternate (items) to make sure that they're getting some vitamins ... to help with their immune system," Wynn said. "I've had to change my way of thinking as far as things I could still send to them to help (since) we're not cooking five days a week. At least they can still have some items that can provide some of that nutrition."
Wynn said meals are cooked starting about 6 a.m. Wednesday. Plates are usually packed for delivery by 9-9:15 a.m.
Wynn and four part-time workers are on staff at the kitchen, located at 1510 Fourth Ave. S.E. in Decatur. Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Wynn at 256-351-6850, 256-565-3386 or email@example.com.