LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Since the coronavirus pandemic started, Meals on Wheels in Lexington has seen a 20% increase in the number of clients it serves, according to President Melissa LeVine.
"We are bursting at the seams right now and glad of it," LeVine said. "[We are] very happy to be able to serve our clients."
LeVine said 38 new clients signed up for the meal delivery service in the past six weeks.
"I think a lot of it is about not wanting to have to go into the stores, so for people who have a way to not go to the grocery store, that's really a godsend," LeVine said.
According to LeVine, the nonprofit has lost a couple volunteers who are elderly and did not want to put themselves at risk for getting the virus, but she said they have enough volunteers to cover the need.
In fact, she said they have the ability to call in a substitute to take over any volunteers who may be sick.
"Anybody who doesn't feel 100% should not be volunteering that day," LeVine said.
The nonprofit has also adopted several other measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
All volunteers and staff wear masks and social distancing is practiced as much as possible in both the kitchen and out on delivery.
Clients have also been asked to provide coolers to set outside their doors so there is limited face-to-face interaction.
For some, this separation has been a tough adjustment.
"Sometimes we are the only people they see during a day," volunteer Betsy Strong said. "You can tell in their eyes they want to reach out and have a hug and they miss that."
Nevertheless, LeVine said for the most part, the clients understand why adjustments were made: to keep them safe.
"More often than I can tell you, I get 'I'm so grateful that you're doing this. I'm so glad you're staying here with us and continuing with us. I don't know what we would do without you,'" LeVine said.
Meals on Wheels is a nonprofit that helps to feel clients who cannot provide food for themselves. Volunteers deliver three meals a day, five days a week. The service costs $6 a day.
For information on volunteering, you can visit their website here.
Meals on Wheels is also looking for masks from anyone who can donate them.