ROANOKE, Va (WFXR News) – A Roanoke agency designated to take care of the aging population says it’s seeing a strain on its emergency food pantry now that at-risk seniors are being told to stay at home.
With the rapid spread of the coronavirus, senior citizens are one of the most populations at-risk. Health officials recommend people over 60-years-old stay home.
The Local Office on Aging is the designated area agency on aging so they already serve the elderly population. They have about 28 community-based services. But now the services that provide food and other essentials have kicked into overdrive.
President & CEO of LOA, Ron Boyd says their Meals on Wheel program has been impacted because a majority of volunteers are seniors so they’ve pulled other staff to help with delivers.
Staff is also being pulled for wellness checks for the most at risk.
The largest demand they’ve seen is on the emergency food pantry. Boyd says they are trying to get out as much as they can from what they can gather. They’ve had some donations come in and even had to send staff to the store to try and scavenge for canned goods and paper items, like toilet paper and paper towels.
“We typically probably would put out maybe 20 emergency bags a week, 20 to 30 maybe a week. But now we’re putting out maybe 20 to 30 bags every four hours,” said Boyd.
The staff and volunteers making deliveries are taking extra precautions. They are wearing gloves and face masks. They are also not coming in contact with the clients. They call them ahead of time and leave the bags for them. The only time they go inside is if the person can not physically bring the bag in themselves.
While the building is closed to the public, they are still open and taking donations.
Boyd says many of the seniors they serve don’t have a big support system so they are trying to help them the best they can at this time. So in this time, it’s important for people, neighbors, faith communities to check on those seniors who can’t get out to make sure they have what they need.
“A lot of them are isolated now, so they only hear what they’re hearing and they are imagining the worst so we’re trying to keep them calm, check on them, make sure they have their prescriptions, figure out what type of groceries they need,” said Boyd.
Anyone who knows a senior in need can contact the Local Office on Aging to try and get them help. The number is 540-345-0451.
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