Burlington County has delivered more than 50,000 meals to homebound senior citizens as part of the County’s continuing effort to assist vulnerable residents during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“The pandemic has been hard on all of us, but most of all our seniors. Many of them have felt isolated inside their homes due to the virus,” said Burlington County Board Director Felicia Hopson. “Through our County Meals-on-Wheels program, we’ve made sure anyone homebound can still get a nutritious, home-made meal regularly.”
The Meals-on-Wheels program provides a home-made and well-balanced meal to eligible seniors 60 or older. While the program existed prior to the pandemic, demand has ballooned during the last five months due to the pandemic.
From April through August, the program delivered just over 51,000 meals to seniors, a 17% increase compared to the same five months last year. The program has delivered meals to just over 630 clients each week.
In addition to the Meals-on-Wheels program, the County also operates a Congregate Nutrition Program that serves lunches for seniors at four nutrition sites in Beverly, Bordentown, Moorestown, Mount Holly, as well as at the Browns Mills Senior Center in Pemberton Township. As part of the program, the County contracts with drivers to transport eligible seniors to the nutrition sites for the weekday meals and social activities.
The congregate nutrition sites have remained closed due to the pandemic and many of the seniors who participated in the daily meals at the sites have enrolled in the Meals-on-Wheels program.
“That’s 600-plus seniors who didn’t have to brave crowds at supermarkets or fend for themselves for food, plus our drivers safely interact with the seniors they serve. Even that brief interaction and sense of camaraderie with our drivers can be helpful during this time when many of our vulnerable residents feel so isolated,” said Hopson, who serves as the board’s liaison to the Department of Human Services and Office on Aging.
Citing the program’s importance, the County Board voted unanimously Wednesday to extend its contract with Colonial Village Catering Services Inc., a Pemberton Borough-based catering business, to supply meals for both Meals-on-Wheels and the Congregate Programs.
Colonial Village is expected to prepare more than 185,000 meals next year.
“The Meals-on-Wheels program is exactly the kind of service our county provides that many of our residents rely upon. It was a lifeline before the pandemic hit, but the crisis has magnified its importance,” Hopson said. “I’m so proud of the work our Office on Aging is performing to help our seniors through this challenging time.”
Seniors wishing to enroll in the program or seeking more information can call the Office on Aging at 609-702-7053 or email BCOfficeonAging@co.burlington.nj.us.
Residents wishing to donate to support the Meals-on-Wheels and Seniors Congregate Nutrition Program can send checks to Burlington County Office on Aging, 49 Rancocas Road, P.O. Box 6000, Mount Holly, NJ, 08060.