OUR RESPONSE TO COVID-19

How We are Responding to COVID-19

Since the pandemic began, our top priority has been to protect the health and safety of those we serve, and that of our dedicated volunteers and hard-working Meals on Wheels Central Texas staff.

At the same time, we are mindful that many of our clients are also at risk for loneliness and depression - “viruses” that pose a serious threat just as the coronavirus does.  

In order to achieve that delicate balance, we have restructured the ways in which we provide our life-sustaining services to homebound older Central Texans – while also keeping them socially connected.

Here is a quick update on our programs and how our agency is dealing with COVID-19:

Meals on Wheels

To reduce the number of in-person interactions between our clients and volunteers, we have temporarily replaced our daily meal deliveries with deliveries of two weeks’ worth of lunches – both frozen and shelf-stable - every other Friday. Volunteers wear masks and practice social distancing when dropping off the meals.

Volunteers pick up the food and route sheets at our Central Kitchen (3227 East 5th St.) between 9:00AM – 12:00PM every other Friday. Each meal route consists of a handful of clients who live in close proximity to one another – and we have meal routes all over the Greater Austin area. Be advised, routes are distributed on a first come-first served basis.

We ask our Meals on Wheels volunteers to do the following on delivery days:

  • Clear space in backseat or trunk in order to make room for the boxes and bags of meals our staff will load into the vehicle.
  • Bring an ink pen and please keep it handy.
  • Bring at least 2 large coolers (or as many coolers and insulated bags as possible) when picking up meals at our Central Kitchen (3227 East 5th Street, 78702). This is to ensure the frozen lunches maintain safe temperatures. Volunteers will pick up 5 frozen plates in purple/burgundy bags, 5 cold sides in yellow bags, and 5 shelf stable meals and sides in white bags per client.
  • Immediately contact our Customer Service Department at 512-476-6325 should no one answer the door at a clients’ house. We will attempt to reach the client by phone to see if they are home before the volunteer moves on to their next delivery. If the Customer Service representative confirms the client is not at home and to ‘give the meals away’, please only LEAVE THE WHITE BAGS on the porch and proceed to give away the yellow and purple bags. NOTE: yellow and purple bags CANNOT be left on the porch due to spoilage.

 

SCHEDULE FOR MEAL DELIVERIES

Date

Time

Friday, December 4, 2020

9:00AM - 12:00PM (or until we run out of routes)

Friday, December 18, 2020

9:00AM - 12:00PM (or until we run out of routes)

Thursday, December 31, 2020

9:00AM - 12:00PM (or until we run out of routes)

Friday, January 15, 2021

9:00AM - 12:00PM (or until we run out of routes)

 

Please note: This year, we are serving our special Thanksgiving meal on Friday, November 20th, as part of our two-week meal delivery. Our offices will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, November 26th. Our special Christmas meal delivery will happen on Friday, December 18th as part of our two-week meal delivery, and our offices will be closed on Christmas Day, December 25th. If you are an active volunteer, please join us on November 20th and December 18th to deliver our special holiday meals.

Click here to learn about eligibility requirements for receiving services or to apply for services.

 

Case Management

While the meals nourish our clients bodies, our dedicated Client Services team is nourishing their spirit; spending hours on the phone each day calling the nearly 3,000 homebound older Central Texans we serve, checking on them, assessing their needs, and easing their concerns.

Clients who have access to the internet are also invited to participate in the bingo games and other virtual activities currently being offered by our Senior Centers program (see “Senior Centers” later in this update).

Care Calls

Care Calls volunteers provide clients with reassuring phone calls, on a regular basis, in order to reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Social Connection Project

A new collaboration between Dell Medical School’s Factor Health team and Meals on Wheels Central Texas, this project will measure the efficacy of programs like Care Calls. MOWCTX clients enrolled in the intervention will receive daily phone calls, over a four week period, from volunteers from the Steve Hicks School of Social Work at the University of Texas at Austin. Then, the Factor Health team will assess the impact of providing high frequency connection to homebound seniors and whether that interaction reduces feelings of loneliness, depression and anxiety.

In-Home Care

Meals on Wheels Central Texas In-Home Care continues to provide essential in-home care services to help our clients remain safe in their home. Our caregivers are trained to comply with all required health and safety precautions, and pre-screen themselves and the clients they serve for symptoms of COVID-19 and other illnesses prior to delivering these services.

Click here to learn more about our In-Home Care Services.

Click here to learn how to become a Meals on Wheels Central Texas In-Home Care attendant/caregiver.

Home Repair

Our Home Repair program continues to repair the exteriors of clients’ houses and perform emergency interior repairs. Work crews are completing projects while also adhering to social distancing guidelines.

HOPE

HOPE clients are still receiving monthly supplies of shelf stable groceries delivered by wonderful volunteers who take every precaution to protect the health of the clients and themselves.

PALS

Thanks to the hard work of our pet loving volunteers, our clients’ beloved dogs and cats are still getting monthly supplies of pet food. These drop-offs are also done while adhering to health and safety protocols.

PALS has resumed veterinary care transports for clients’ pets. Volunteers and clinic staff follow all health and safety protocols.

Interested in becoming a PALS volunteer? Click here.

Groceries to Go

Dedicated Grocery to Go volunteers continue to make trips to the grocery store for our clients in this program while also adhering to health and safety protocols.

Senior Centers

Although all local Senior Centers are temporarily closed due to the pandemic, we continue to nourish and enrich the lives of program participants by offering weekly curbside meal distribution at the sites.  Clients not only receive a week’s supply of lunches, they also take home an activity packet containing games, puzzles, etc. Participants are also able to stay connected with their friends through virtual activities like thematic workshops and playing Bingo. Check out our Senior Centers page to keep up-to-date with current virtual activities.

Connecting Seniors with Technology

While our Connecting Seniors with Technology (CST) program has temporarily suspended in-home face to face training sessions, CST volunteers are staying in touch electronically with their tech clients, helping them trouble-shoot any issues they might have and stay socially connected with the outside world.  And CST clients are also welcome to play Virtual Bingo or any other virtual activities currently being offered by our Senior Centers program.

Mike’s Place

Although Mike’s Place has temporarily suspended respite care, we are providing participants with nutritious meals and activity kits delivered to their home and are staying in virtual contact with their caregivers. Mike’s Place participants and volunteers keep in touch via Zoom or via socially-distanced porch visits outside of clients’ homes. 

How You Can Help

We need 200 new volunteers! That’s how many open meal routes we currently have as we gear up to resume daily meal deliveries in January 2021.  Without the additional help, hundreds of older, homebound Central Texans risk going hungry!

Giving just one hour of your time every week will make a world of difference in the lives of those we serve! To find out about our virtual online volunteer training or to learn more click here.

Help us deliver “More Than a Meal” to our elderly neighbors in need!