Senior center providing meals and comfort to area senior citizens

| April 28, 2020

For many local senior citizens, church and the senior center are where they get the social contact they need. With the COVID-19 crisis, that need is going unfulfilled for many and that loneliness can lead to depression. The Coshocton Senior Center staff is working to ease loneliness and to provide meals.

“Our home delivery meal program is so important,” said Christy Neighbor, director of the Senior Center. “We delivered almost 400 meals a day before this crisis and served about 70 lunches here at the center. We are providing about 500 home delivered meals, now, and are still getting calls to receive meals.” Neighbor said the procedure has changed since the corona virus.

“Our drivers used to go in and talk to the people for a few minutes every day,” Neighbor said. “Now, they can’t do that safely.” She said the program is not income based, but more need based. “Maybe they can’t use a can opener anymore or their family doesn’t think it’s safe for them to use the oven. A hot meal every day is so important – to make sure they are getting the nutrition they need. We’ve been considered an essential service from the beginning.”

When a person is feeling lonely or isolated, they may not eat enough or the right things. The delivered meal and a smile from the driver are often something people look forward to all day. “I got a call the other day from a lady telling me that the smile from her driver when her meal is delivered is the best part of her day,” Neighbor said. While the drivers can’t go into the homes, unless the person has special needs, they can talk to the homeowner for a few minutes from outside.

“On Tuesday, we deliver the hot meal, but also a frozen one for Wednesday,” Neighbor said. “On Wednesdays, our drivers call everyone on their route and just talk to them. They need this communication as much as they need the meal.” She said some of the seniors don’t see the people who used to help care for them, such as family, and they are afraid to go to the store.

“We partnered with Buehler’s because they will do payment over the phone,” Neighbor said. “Seniors can call with their grocery list and we will pick it up and deliver it to them. I am so grateful to Buehler’s for doing this for our seniors. And I’m so thankful that the Coshocton community supports us and our levy. Without it, we couldn’t provide the services and so many people would be hurting.” She said while a lot of people are doing online grocery shopping and delivery, many senior citizens don’t have that option.

The senior center is still having their produce pick-up day on the first Tuesday of each month. Anyone over 60 years old is welcome to come and get a box of fresh produce. “We used to have everyone come in and pick what they want, but with social distancing, we just pack the boxes and put them into cars as people drive up,” Neighbor said. The center is also providing commodity boxes that have pantry staples in them, such as canned goods and juice. Mid-Ohio Food Bank is helping the center with food items.

Neighbor said they are trying to send encouragement with each meal. “A group from Ridgewood used children’s art, laminated it and made place mats,” she said. “United Health Care made packets of puzzles, like word finds, to deliver.  Coshocton Head Start is letting us use their freezers because we have run out of room here. And Wiley’s donated a huge amount of hand sanitizer. If we hadn’t gotten that, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do. Coshocton is amazing – they fill needs when they hear of them.”

Anyone aged 60 or over who needs anything is urged to call the senior center at 740-622-4852.

“We will do the best we can to get them the services that they need,” Neighbor said.

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Category: People & Places

About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

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