HAMPTON ROADS, Va.— Daily food deliveries by volunteers at Warwick United Church of Christ in Newport News make their way to some of the most vulnerable members of the community.
“We can do 41 routes a day, so we have to have 41 volunteers show up,” explained Vice President of Community Service Peninsula Agency on Aging Gerald Patesel.
The Meals on Wheels program survives on the generosity of one neighbor taking care of another.
Volunteers deliver the meals throughout the Peninsula on assigned routes that usually take about an hour to complete.
“They’re delivering a meal, they check on the client, see how they’re doing, and they let us know if anything needs to be adjusted,” Patesel said.
The program serves nutritious meals to seniors 60 and older, who can’t regularly prepare or secure a meal.
During a pandemic when people are feeling more isolated than ever, volunteers share a meal and a few moments that can brighten a day.
“Just seeing that individual come to the house makes them feel a whole lot better and they get to know each other. A lot of volunteers do the same routes, so they develop friendships," Patesel said.
The need for meals increased by nearly 85 percent in the past year, largely in Hampton. The Peninsula Agency on Aging expanded routes to get it all done and they’re looking for more drivers to keep up with demand.
“When the pandemic first started, we were providing about 380 meals a day. Now we’re almost close to 700,” explained Patesel.
People can call the office at 757-873-0541 to request to be a volunteer for Meals on Wheels. Volunteer can choose what days and how often they would like to volunteer, and if they want to do it in a group.