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Southeast Ohio Foodbank delivers meals and gifts during holidays

MEDIA RELEASE – The Southeast Ohio Regional Kitchen is now accepting donations for its annual Secret Santa for Super Seniors initiative.

The Regional Kitchen, a program of Hocking Athens Perry Community Action, brings company and community to its Meals on Wheels clients throughout the year. This will be the third year of the Secret Santa program, which has brought holiday cheer to hundreds of seniors enrolled in the program in Hocking and Athens Counties.

Traditionally, generous givers could come into the Southeast Ohio Foodbank in Logan or HAPCAP’s main office in Glouster and select a name tag from a tree. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Regional Kitchen is adjusting the program and encouraging people to shop through its Amazon Wish List. This digital method of giving will allow direct, no-contact shipping to the Foodbank.

Isolation has been particularly prevalent during this pandemic, especially among seniors. Cold weather and snow-covered roads can increase isolation in the wintertime. This lack of community can have devastating effects on health and overall wellness.

“I used to be a Meals on Wheels driver. Around the holidays, I’d really notice a lack of visitors. So I really wanted to do something that would spark some Christmas cheer for our clients,” says Naomi Squires, Food Services Coordinator at the Foodbank.

According to Columbia University, some seniors struggle to fill their days with meaningful activities after they retire. If they are a caregiver for a spouse or they themselves live with a disability, they might have difficulty maintaining friendships and connections. A study from the University of Michigan found that older adults with mobility impairments, such as an inability to stand for 30 minutes, walk a long distance, or move freely in the home, were more likely to report being isolated from friends.

These studies ring especially true for Meals on Wheels seniors who are receiving delivered meals because they are homebound.

Loneliness is a quiet epidemic that is predicted to get worse, and quarantine effects have yet to be measured as the world navigates through the pandemic. The Texas Medical Center states that 20 percent of the U.S. population will be 65 or older by the year 2030, and 1 in 3 seniors already report feeling lonely. Yet establishing strong, meaningful relationships and a sense of community will help improve the mind, body, and soul.

In the midst of the pandemic, the Kitchen’s Meals on Wheels drivers are still on a regular delivery schedule, checking in with seniors several times a week. Rather than entering homes, drivers are both speaking with seniors and leaving meals at the door. If a senior does not come to the door, the Senior Nutrition Specialist follows up with a phone call. Drivers may also alert medical professionals if there is an emergency.

For many seniors, their Meals on Wheels driver may be the only regular contact they may have, making it all the more important for staff to go the extra mile to ensure their seniors are safe and healthy. 

“I want our seniors to know that people care about them, that their community cares about them,” says Squires. “They have a support system out there and their community cares about them.”

Those wanting to drop off items may drop them off at the Southeast Ohio Foodbank in Logan, 1005 CIC Drive, Logan Ohio 43138. However, the Regional Kitchen is urging digital giving through its Amazon Wish List, which can be accessed by typing rb.gy/g3jn3h into your browser. All gifts must be sent to the Foodbank by December 9, 2020.

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