COVID-19 doesn't stop meal deliveries to homebound elders in Tallahassee

Posted at 6:18 PM, Jul 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-13 18:18:10-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Hundreds of homebound neighbors in Leon County depend on volunteers delivering food throughout the coronavirus pandemic; however, the pandemic changed the way those deliveries happen.

The people who drive dozens of miles every week, delivering food to those in need aren't letting COVID-19 stop them. They're doing what's right to help others manage the pressure of the pandemic.

Operations look a little different at Elder Care Services in Tallahassee. Nicole Ballas is the director of Fund Development for Elder Care Services in Tallahassee.

"I will say that at least 200 extras seniors are being served right now," said Ballas.

She says those extra seniors were added to their plate once the pandemic started.

"To get this food out to them they've had to change the way they deliver," Ballas said.

They used to deliver fresh meals daily, five days a week. Now, it's one bulk delivery of frozen meals once a week.

"This allows our volunteers to go out only once a week," said Ballas.

Dianne Jacobs is one of those volunteers.

"We just try to focus on the positive and ask to make sure they're doing alright," said Jacobs.

She's been helping her neighbors by delivering meals since 2005 and the pandemic has her going the extra mile to stay safe.

"We're not going in the house anymore," Jacobs said. "There's chatting at the door, but it just doesn't feel quite as personable."

The less frequent visits and limited contact has taken its toll.

"I think they're coping," said Jacobs. "I think there's a lot more loneliness."

For that reason, the center has made also made changes on their end.

"We have staff who have transitioned from their normal roles to phone calls," Ballas said.

Workers and volunteers are wearing masks to protect themselves and the people they help.

Elder Care Services in Tallahassee serves about 2,000 seniors annually and have about 1,500 extra meals going out each week right now.