Maine seniors isolated by coronavirus outbreak increase demand for Meals on Wheels program

The Southern Maine Agency on Aging has seen a surge in demand for its Meals on Wheels program since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak.Volunteers deliver meals twice a week, and the number of seniors requesting meals has spiked from 750 a week to more than 1,100.Ron Jewell, 79, said he is very appreciative of the weekly meals ever since his wife died. His family lives in Massachusetts.”They’re not allowed up here really. They’ll come up in an emergency if something happens to be, but otherwise we try to social-distance,” Jewell said.Jewell’s story is like many other seniors who are on their own, isolated and afraid to go to the grocery store amid the pandemic.”They’re trying to protect themselves from the virus. A lot of them, because of the virus, their support system was no longer. Maybe they had family-members who were coming and helping before couldn’t do it any longer, so they found themselves in this homebound situation,” SMAA director of nutrition Renee Longarini said.Volunteer Ken Kuliga said he finds it rewarding to meet so many interesting people.”Some of them you could stay there and talk for two hours,” Kuliga said.Jewell said he loves the company, even if the volunteer can only stay for a few minutes.”He’s the only person I see a lot of weeks. I get lonely at times,” Jewell said.The Southern Maine Agency on Aging encourages people to reach out to them and they will put them in touch with a volunteer.

The Southern Maine Agency on Aging has seen a surge in demand for its Meals on Wheels program since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak.

Volunteers deliver meals twice a week, and the number of seniors requesting meals has spiked from 750 a week to more than 1,100.

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Ron Jewell, 79, said he is very appreciative of the weekly meals ever since his wife died. His family lives in Massachusetts.

“They’re not allowed up here really. They’ll come up in an emergency if something happens to be, but otherwise we try to social-distance,” Jewell said.

Jewell’s story is like many other seniors who are on their own, isolated and afraid to go to the grocery store amid the pandemic.

“They’re trying to protect themselves from the virus. A lot of them, because of the virus, their support system was no longer. Maybe they had family-members who were coming and helping before couldn’t do it any longer, so they found themselves in this homebound situation,” SMAA director of nutrition Renee Longarini said.

Volunteer Ken Kuliga said he finds it rewarding to meet so many interesting people.

“Some of them you could stay there and talk for two hours,” Kuliga said.

Jewell said he loves the company, even if the volunteer can only stay for a few minutes.

“He’s the only person I see a lot of weeks. I get lonely at times,” Jewell said.

The Southern Maine Agency on Aging encourages people to reach out to them and they will put them in touch with a volunteer.