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Local charities rely on the power of volunteers to rebound from COVID-19

Posted at 12:55 PM, Apr 27, 2020

TAMPA, Fla. — Meals on Wheels Tampa Bay continues to churn out 5,000 meals a week for people who are homebound.

The elderly or disabled might not be seeing the smiling faces of volunteers delivering food five days a week, but they are still getting their meals. And, something different local volunteers are doing, daily phone calls.

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"Our telepals call a full route once a week," Shana Taylor-Page the Tampa Director of Programs and Partners said. "We've learned we are much more resilient than we thought we were. We also learned that our volunteers are unwavering in their commitment to our mission."

The novel coronavirus is forcing the nonprofit to change how they work.

"Normally, in a normal world, we would deliver about 850 hot home-cooked meals every day, Monday through Friday, plus two frozen meals for the weekend," Taylor-Page said. "Right now, we are delivering all of the meals just on Tuesday, so our recipients are getting either a five frozen pack or a seven frozen pack. So, we are delivering all of the 5,000 meals all on one day."

Delivery routes for volunteers are down to 82 from 420.

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"Our regular volunteers have really stepped up and said 'I want to go deliver my route every Tuesday even if I'm delivering you know 5x as many meals and working harder. I still want to go see my people,'" Taylor-Page said.

And because Meals on Wheels is delivering food to high-risk populations, they are taking every precaution to keep volunteers and recipients safe.

"Most of the people we serve are homebound, which means they don't leave the house, so the risk really is our volunteers going to them, so we are really trying to educate the volunteers about sanitizing their hands before and after every delivery, wearing the masks, keeping the social distancing and stepping back," Taylor-Page said. "All of our volunteers have been trained to knock, place the meals down and then step away from the door to make sure everyone is trying to be as safe as possible."

If you would like to support Meals on Wheels Tampa Bay, click here.