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COVID takes the air out of senior Meals on Wheels

By Genelle Pugmire - | Jan 21, 2022
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Utah County Commissioner Bill Lee and volunteer Andrea Throckmorton deliver meals to homebound seniors on Tuesday, March 10, 2020, as part of a "March for Meals" event held by the county's Meals on Wheels program.
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Lehi Mayor Mark Johnson takes a meal from the trunk of Suzanne Bringhurst's vehicle to deliver along a Meals on Wheels route Wednesday, May 9, 2018, in Lehi.
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Inmates and staff prepare meals in the kitchen at the Utah County Jail for the inmates and also for the Utah County Meals on Wheels program on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, in Spanish Fork.

Over 1,000 Utah County seniors are in jeopardy of not having at least one meal a day to sustain them as COVID-19 continues to take the air out of Meals on Wheels deliveries.

After quietly and diligently combating senior hunger and isolation during the pandemic, the Meals on Wheels program in Utah County is turning to the public for help.

Due to a beleaguered job market and the recent surge of COVID-19 cases, Meals on Wheels is calling on the community to help find paid staff drivers and volunteers to deliver meals to homebound seniors.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, so many people were willing to jump in and help serve those most vulnerable in our community,” said Jimmy Golding, Meals on Wheels volunteer program manager. “But the recent surge has taken out many of our volunteers who are sick or caring for others who are sick. We need more help.”

Meals on Wheels is a vital program in the community, serving lunch to our homebound senior neighbors who are unable to shop for food or cook for themselves.

The demand for meals throughout the pandemic is ever-increasing, as the program is currently delivering more than 650 meals each day. An additional 450 meals are delivered to 11 different city senior centers throughout the valley. It takes a small army of more than 400 volunteers and five staff drivers to deliver the meals each week.

“American Fork and surrounding cities have been very fortunate from the support of our residents who need Meals on Wheels,” American Fork Mayor Brad Frost said. “As mayor, I call upon all our residents, young and old, who have 45 minutes in their daily schedule to serve our homebound seniors. From personal experience, as you invest a small portion of your time, the reward will return at a much greater value.”

Many seniors rely on Meals on Wheels for their main source of nutrition and sometimes their driver is the only person they see each day.

“What I love about my job is the connections that I get to make with the seniors,” said Jenny Davenport, Meals on Wheels staff driver. “The people on my route I just love. I also like working independently and being able to be out and about instead of in a cubicle.”

Paid drivers deliver meals Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. throughout Utah County. Retirement and part-time insurance benefits are available.

Volunteers are needed to deliver meals for about one hour one day a week during lunch. “It is more than just a job,” Golding said. “We work for money because it is a necessity but Meals on Wheels drivers deliver meals because they have a heart for their community.”

Meals on Wheels Mountainlands Association of Governments Senior Nutrition Program helps seniors maintain their independence by providing hot, nutritious lunches. The program administers the local Meals on Wheels program and oversees the congregate meal program provided at the local city senior centers with a total 1,000 meals a day provided daily in Utah County.


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