PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — The Meals on Wheels program in Pinellas County is in need of volunteers to deliver meals to home-bound seniors.
According to Neighborly, a nonprofit that serves more than 3,000 seniors in Pinellas County, they have lost more than 25% of their Meals on Wheels volunteer drivers as temperatures rise in the Tampa Bay area.
“It is becoming more difficult to cover our daily Meals on Wheels routes in Pinellas County. Many of our current volunteers are doubling their routes to make sure all of our seniors are covered,” said David Lomaka, Executive Director for Neighborly, Meals on Wheels.
Neighborly said it takes volunteers 60 to 90 minutes during lunch time, Monday-Friday, to complete each route. There are eight Meal on Wheels locations throughout Pinellas County and volunteers can sign up to deliver a route once a week or more.
“Some people have even described it as a ministry. It’s more than just delivering a meal. You are delivering a visit. You are delivering companionship," said Neighborly Care Network executive director David Lomaka.
The Neighborly Care Network operates the Meals on Wheels Program in Pinellas County.
Many volunteers are snowbirds who just aren’t around this time of year.
“A good majority are often retirees themselves. They have a little bit of flexibility with their day so they can deliver that lunch time meal," said volunteer recruiting coordinator Stephanie Vanasco.
Corporate offices and churches also help out by taking on delivery routes.
When the need is there, all of Neighborly’s staff members take a shift as well.
“I actually used to volunteer with my mom when I was a little girl and do routes with her then. Now as a neighborly staff member we are filling that gap as well. I’ve had a route I’ve been doing for a few weeks now and I’m already in love with some of my clients on the route," said Vanasco.
Even though Neighborly is in desperate need of volunteers during the summer, they say it doesn’t stop the mission.
“It’s not an option for us not to deliver a meal. If somebody is home alone and not having a meal. It’s not an option for them not to get one from us," said Lomaka.
If you are interested in volunteering or donating to a senior in need of a warm, nutritious meal, you can call (727) 573-9444 or visit www.Neighborly.org.