OUR RESPONSE TO COVID-19

Our Response to COVID-19

April 6, 2020

During these unsettling times, Meals on Wheels Central Texas, deemed an essential provider under all local Stay at Home orders, continues to deliver its life-sustaining services to thousands of homebound older adults and people with disabilities – while also safeguarding the health and safety of those we serve, our volunteers and our staff.

Here is a quick update on our programs and how our agency is dealing with the pandemic:

Meals on Wheels

We altered our delivery protocols last month by temporarily suspending daily meal service. Instead, clients now receive two weeks’ worth of frozen or shelf-stable meals at a time. This reduces the amount of interaction between our dedicated volunteers and the vulnerable people we serve. Volunteers have been instructed on how to safely deliver meals while also exercising social distancing. All home-delivered meal clients have enough meals to get them through this Friday, April 10.

That same day, we will need active Meals on Wheels volunteers who have a weekly route, or serve as a substitute, or are part of an active delivery team to help us get more food to those we serve. If you are a current volunteer, please come to our Central Kitchen (3227 East 5th Street, 78702) this Friday, April 10, between 10AM-NOON to deliver another two-week’s worth of meals to clients. Supply chain delays could affect this schedule, so we encourage you to check our website for updates. We are depending on our dedicated volunteers more than ever during this pandemic. We deeply appreciate your invaluable service! Please note that we are unable to accept new volunteers at this time.

On Sunday, Austin-Travis County adopted CDC guidelines regarding public use of fabric face coverings. We urge all Meals on Wheels volunteers to wear masks while picking up and delivering meals. You can visit the CDC website for instructions on proper usage as well as how to make your own mask.

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.

Our In-Home Care division is also hiring caregivers – with orientation sessions held every Tuesday (1PM-4PM) and Thursday (10AM-1PM) at our offices (3227 East 5th Street 78702). Health screenings are conducted prior to entering our facility, and our orientations are conducted in accordance with applicable social distancing guidelines.

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.

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 curbside meal distribution at the sites every two weeks. Clients not only receive a two-week supply of lunches, they also take home an activity packet that contains games, puzzles, etc.

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.

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.

Mike’s Place

Although Mike’s Place has temporarily suspended respite care, we are providing participants with nutritious meals delivered to their home. 

Case Management

While Stay-At-Home orders are in effect, our dedicated Client Services team is 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. During these calls, clients talk about how thankful they are that our agency continues to provide services to them during these unsettling times.  Here’s a small sampling of their gratitude:

“God Bless you, Meals on Wheels”…“Thank you for looking out for us”…..“ “Meals on Wheels Central Texas is the best thing that has ever happened to me”

Your continued support of our cause allows us to help our most vulnerable neighbors at a time when they need us the most!

How You Can Help

Because we are unable to accept new volunteers or in-kind donations right now, the best way to support our mission is with a donation, which you can easily make by going to the donations page of our website.

We will keep you posted on any future developments regarding the pandemic. In the meantime, we deeply appreciate your continued support of our mission!


March 30, 2020

As an essential service provider under the terms of all local Stay-at-Home orders, Meals on Wheels Central Texas continues to assist the homebound older adults we are honored to serve.

Here’s an update on how we are accomplishing that while also protecting the health and safety of our clients, volunteers, and staff.

Home-Delivered Meals Program

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have altered our delivery protocols by temporarily suspending daily meal service. Instead, clients will receive two weeks’ worth of frozen or shelf-stable meals at a time. This reduces the amount of interaction between our dedicated volunteers and the vulnerable people we serve. All volunteers have been instructed on how to safely deliver meals while also exercising social distancing.

All home-delivered meal clients currently have enough meals to last them through Friday, April 10. We are in urgent need of active Meals on Wheels volunteers who have a weekly route, or serve as a substitute, or are part of an active delivery team to help us get more food to those we serve.  If you are a current volunteer, please come to our Central Kitchen (3227 East 5th Street, 78702) on Friday, April 10, between 10AM-NOON to deliver another two-week’s worth of meals to clients. Please note there will NOT be a meal delivery on Friday, April 3. Going forward, for as long as Stay-at-Home orders are in place, our volunteers will deliver two-week bundles of meals every two weeks. All meals will be picked up at our Central Kitchen location. Please note that supply chain delays could affect this schedule, so we encourage you to check our website for updates. We are depending on our dedicated volunteers more than ever during this pandemic. We deeply appreciate your invaluable service!

During the temporary suspension of daily meal delivery, MOWCTX Case Managers are calling our clients regularly to check in on them, assess their needs and ease their concerns.

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.

Our In-Home Care division is also hiring caregivers – with orientation sessions held every Tuesday (1PM-4PM) and Thursday (10AM-1PM) at our offices (3227 East 5th Street 78702). Health screenings are conducted prior to entering our facility, and our orientations are conducted in accordance with applicable social distancing guidelines.

New Clients

We continue to process new requests for services in accordance with our usual eligibility guidelines, which require our case management team members to first assess the need of each applicant. We ask that all new applicants be patient as we balance caring for our existing clients in this time of high need with processing the increased demand for services.

New Volunteers

In order to help flatten the curve of the virus, we have temporarily suspended new volunteer orientation and are unable to bring on new volunteers at this time. We look forward to welcoming new volunteers as soon as it is safe to do so.

How You Can Help 

Because we are unable to accept new volunteers or in-kind donations right now, the best way to support our mission is with a donation, which you can easily make by going to the donations page of our website.

We will keep you posted on any future developments regarding the pandemic. In the meantime, we deeply appreciate your continued support of our mission!


March 24, 2020

To our active Meals on Wheels volunteers:

While stay-at-home orders issued for most of the Greater Austin area will temporarily disrupt our lives, it will NOT alter our commitment to keep the homebound older adults we serve healthy and safe.  In fact, because of our mission, MOWCTX is considered an essential business under the orders and, as such, will continue to provide life-sustaining services to older Central Texans.

At the same time, we have a moral obligation to protect your health and that of our clients and staff.  That’s why, during the COVID-19 threat, we have changed the way we deliver assistance to our older neighbors.  We have temporarily suspended daily meal deliveries, and all of our satellite distribution sites are closed for the time being so you will not be driving your regularly scheduled delivery routes until further notice.  Our agency remains open however.

Thanks to your hard work, we have provided our home-delivered meal clients with enough lunches to last them through Friday, April 3.  And we’ll be getting even more food to them later this week. But we need your help to do so.

We are asking all active Meals on Wheels volunteers who have delivered meals within the past 12-months to show up at our Central Kitchen in East Austin this Friday, March 27, between 10AM-12:30PM, to pick up bundles of shelf-stable meals and then deliver them to homebound clients.  Please note due to state, county, and city requirements, we are unable to accept assistance from anyone who has NOT gone through our Meals on Wheels training and a criminal background check.  It is also important to note that you will be exempt from the stay-in-place order while driving to Central Kitchen, delivering the meals, and driving home.

If you fall into a high risk category for COVID-19 (over 65-years old or suffering from a serious underlying medical condition), we thank you for your willingness to help but ask that you stay at home.  We also ask the same of any volunteers who are feeling ill.

For all others volunteers, here are details and important information regarding Friday’s meal pick-up and delivery:

When: Friday, March 27 from 10AM-12:30PM*

Where: Meals on Wheels Central Texas (3227 E. 5th St. Austin, 78702)**

What: Drive-through meal pick up

Who:  All active and trained Meals on Wheels volunteers

Why: To ensure our homebound clients have enough to eat during this crisis

*In an effort to reduce traffic congestion on East 5th Street and maintain proper social distancing, we ask all volunteers to please stagger your arrival time on Friday.  The folks who arrive at 12:15PM to deliver meals are every bit as helpful as those who show up earlier that day.

** Our facility is located on East 5th Street between Tillery Street and Allen Street.  When you arrive please pull into the driveway on the Allen Street side of our building (see map).   You can stay in your car and we’ll have people load the meals into your vehicle along with your route sheet – all while adhering to social distancing guidelines. 

Thank you again for your continued support of our life-sustaining mission!


March 23, 2020

To our active Meals on Wheels program volunteers: Just a reminder that due to the spread of COVID-19, we have temporarily suspended daily meal delivery until further notice.  All MOW clients currently have enough lunches to last them through Friday, April 3.  Prior to that date, we will schedule a Special Delivery that will provide them with another two weeks of meals.  We will keep you updated on that delivery and any other developments.

We know you are concerned about the people on your meal route. Rest assured that Meals on Wheels Central Texas Case Managers are reaching out to them and all of our other clients by phone to check on them and assess their needs during these challenging times.  


March 20, 2020

As our community deals with the growing Coronavirus threat, Meals on Wheels Central Texas remains committed to ensuring the health and safety of the homebound older adults we serve; at the same time, we must also protect the wellbeing of our dedicated volunteers and hardworking staff. That’s why, in an abundance of caution for all involved, we will temporarily alter our meal delivery protocols.

Before we get to those changes, it’s important to note that for the past week, our volunteers have been delivering bundles of additional meals (5-packs of frozen and shelf stable meals) to those we serve along with the daily meal. As of now, all of our home-delivered meal clients have a two-week supply of meals. Our priority is to make sure the people we serve do not run out of food during these challenging times.

With that in mind, here are the changes: Starting on Monday, March 23, most of our staff, in adherence with federal, state, and local guidelines regarding the Coronavirus, will work remotely from home. We will temporarily discontinue daily meal service and our kitchen will remain open to rebuild our supply of frozen meals for our next round of meal deliveries to our seniors.

To be clear, we are not closing or suspending services; our agency will still be providing assistance to our current clients. The people we serve will be receiving phone calls from their MOWCTX Case Managers to check in on them and assess their needs. We will also, with the help of our amazing volunteers, be replenishing clients’ meal supplies well before they are depleted. The idea is to deliver multiple meals at a time in order to reduce risk to both client and volunteer. We will resume daily meal deliveries as soon as it is safe to do so. In the meantime, we will keep you updated on future developments.

Many of you have asked how you can help us right now, and we are so grateful not only for your ongoing support but also for reaching out during this difficult time. As you know, we cannot accept donations of food but financial contributions to help defray the costs we are incurring to purchase and prepare more nutritious food for our senior neighbors in need would be most helpful at this time.

Thank you for helping us care for older Central Texas neighbors!


March 19, 2020

To our active Meals on Wheels program volunteers:

Thank you so much for your continued volunteerism during these challenging times as our community deals with the threat of COVID-19.

In an effort to ensure our vulnerable homebound clients have food should we be forced to temporarily suspend our home-delivered meal program, we have ordered enough shelf-stable meals to provide each of our clients with a two-week supply.

We are asking all active Meals on Wheels volunteers who have volunteered within the last six months to help us get those meals to the people we serve tomorrow, Friday, March 20. Interested volunteers will pick up the meals at our Central Kitchen in East Austin and then deliver them to homebound clients. Please note due to state, county, and city requirements, we are unable to accept assistance from anyone who has NOT gone through our Meals on Wheels training and a criminal background check.

Here are details and important information regarding delivery of the shelf-stable meals to our clients’ homes:

  • When: Friday, March 20 from 10AM-3PM*
  • Where: Meals on Wheels Central Texas (3227 E. 5th St. Austin, 78702)**
  • What: Drive-through meal pick up***
  • Who:  All active and trained Meals on Wheels volunteers
  • Why: To ensure our homebound clients have enough to eat during this crisis

*In an effort to reduce traffic congestion on East 5th Street and maintain proper social distancing, we ask volunteers to not all show up at 10AM on Friday. The folks who arrive at 2:45PM to deliver meals are every bit as helpful as those who show up earlier that day.

** Our facility is located on East 5th Street between Tillery Street and Allen Street.  When you arrive please pull into the driveway on the Allen Street side of our building (see map below). You can stay in your car and we’ll have people load the meals into your vehicle along with your route sheet – all while adhering to social distancing guidelines.

***Please note you will most likely NOT be delivering your regular meal route.

Thank you again for your continued support of our life-sustaining mission!


March 17, 2020

To our active Meals on Wheels program volunteers:

Thank you so much for your volunteerism. We deeply appreciate your support during these unsettling times.

The health and safety of our clients, volunteers and staff is always of utmost importance to our agency – but especially now with the threat of COVID-19. Towards that end, we have changed our delivery protocols to protect all concerned. At the same time, we are running out of sanitizer, wipes, masks and gloves. We are trying to order more but have been unsuccessful due to severe shortages. That’s why we continue to stress the importance of everyone washing their hands often and using good discretion when handling the meals. Should you need to wash your hands when you pick up your meals, please ask the meal manager on duty if there is a bathroom onsite. Be advised, not all of our pick-up locations have a bathroom nearby.  

Thank you again for helping us deliver food and safety checks to our clients who rely on us for nourishment. Should you feel uncomfortable delivering meals at this time, we completely understand. In that case, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can find a substitute volunteer for your route


March 16, 2020

Our City of Austin Senior Center sites will be closed through the end of March. We are providing a two week supply of emergency meals for our seniors, and registered participants of City of Austin Senior Center sites can do curbside meal pick up at any of the following locations.

Tuesday, 10AM - 12PM, at the Conley-Guerrero, St. John's, and South Austin Senior Activity Center sites.

Wednesday, 10AM - 12PM, at the Alamo and Durwood sites.

Thursday, 9:30AM - 11:30AM, at the Metz and Gus sites.

We will also be available to serve participants Tuesday - Thursday at the Meals on Wheels Central Texas main office located at 3227 E. 5th Street between 9:00AM - 2:00PM.

In addition, our Mike's Place respite program will be closed through the end of March. 


March 16, 2020

To our Meals on Wheels program volunteers delivering this week:

We deeply appreciate your volunteerism – especially during the current COVID-19 crisis. Please be prepared to have extra insulated bags and coolers on hand for your delivery route this week because we will be distributing emergency 5-pack frozen meals on Tuesday and Wednesday, March 17-18. This is part of our initiative to ensure clients will have food to eat should we be forced to temporarily suspend our home-delivered meal program due to the spread of COVID-19.


March 13, 2020

Meals on Wheels Central Texas is committed to protecting the health and safety of our clients, volunteers, staff, stakeholders, and our entire community.

Now that Austin Public Health has confirmed cases of Coronavirus Disease or COVID-19, in the Greater Austin area, our agency, out of abundance of caution, is modifying our meal delivery protocol. 

Effective immediately, and continuing until further notice, all Meals on Wheels volunteers will follow the following steps when delivering lunch to those we serve:

  1. Place the meal and cold bag someplace very near the client’s front door.
  2. Ring the doorbell/knock on the door and announce that they are from Meals on Wheels.
  3. Step at least 6-feet away (as per Centers for Disease Control recommendations) from the door and wait for the client to get the meal and cold bag.
  4. If the client does not answer the door, the volunteer will contact us and we’ll have a customer service representative call the client.
  5. If Customer Service is unable to reach the client, the volunteer will take the meal and cold bag with them to give away to another client on their delivery route.
  6. Under no circumstances will meals or cold bags be allowed to remain on the porch.

Following these guidelines will protect the vulnerable people we are honored to serve and our dedicated volunteers. It’s also important to remember that although our meal delivery protocols are temporarily changing, we are still delivering hot, nutritious meals and safety checks to our homebound clients. The people we serve are counting on us. That’s why our volunteers are more vital to our mission now than ever. 

Meanwhile, we continue to closely monitor the current spread of COVID-19 and its impact on Central Texas. We are requiring our volunteers to stay home if they are ill. In those instances, we will find substitute volunteers to deliver our nutritious meals. 

At the same time, we are sharing with our homebound clients important tips for reducing the risk of contracting COVID-19. We are also stressing to clients the importance of contacting their health care provider should they develop a fever or respiratory issues.

MOWCTX is also prepared for a worst case scenario involving a region-wide quarantine. We have a plan in place to provide clients with shelf-stable meals that they can eat should we be forced to temporarily suspend our home-delivered meals program because of COVID-19.

We will keep you updated as this situation evolves. In the meantime, we encourage you to follow local news outlets for updates from state and local health officials. Staying informed, remaining calm, and practicing proper hygiene can go a long way in keeping us all healthy!

Thank you for your continued support of our live-sustaining mission!


March 13, 2020

Out of an abundance of caution, Meals on Wheels Central Texas is temporarily suspending new volunteer training. We will continue to update our social media and website when we can train new volunteers again.


March 10, 2020

Meals on Wheels Central Texas is committed to protecting the health and safety of our clients, volunteers, and staff.

Towards that end, our agency is closely monitoring the current global spread of the coronavirus or COVID-19 and its impact on our community. We have urged our volunteers to stay home if they are ill. In those instances, we will find substitute volunteers to deliver our nutritious meals. 

At the same time, we are sharing with our homebound clients important tips for reducing the risk of contracting COVID-19. We are also stressing to clients the importance of contacting their health care provider should they develop a fever or respiratory issues.

We will keep you updated as this situation evolves – and we thank you for your continued support of our mission.