Senior Center seeks volunteer meal drivers

SCV Senior Center Meals on Wheels volunteers don masks and gloves to make meal deliveries amid the coronavirus pandemic. Courtesy

The Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center asks the community for volunteers to help deliver meals to homebound seniors, officials said in a news release. 

“Meals on Wheels is a lifeline for our community’s seniors and seeks your support to keep pace with the rapid increase in need and ensure no senior goes hungry,” the news release said.  

Additionally, the release said, delivering meals is a profoundly fulfilling experience with a team of volunteers committed to improving the quality of life for seniors. 

Volunteers will deliver meals once a week in the morning from Monday through Friday. SCV  Senior Center is looking for individuals to volunteer long-term. COVID-19 protocols will also be maintained and followed.  

Many of the volunteers who worked for the delivery program have found full-time jobs that forced them to stop volunteering or had to contribute less time, according to Meals on Wheels Director Lynne Hazen. 

COVID-19 disruptions increased the demand for Meals on Wheels deliveries, and although the demand has begun to drop, it’s still higher than before the pandemic. 

“Before the pandemic, we were serving around 350 meals a day, and then we went up to 806,” Hazen said. “That was the most, and now we’re down to about 530 each day.” 

More than 2.2 million seniors reported food insecurity issues out of 7.9 million seniors in California, according to research by Meals on Wheels.  

Additionally, seniors requesting the Meals on Wheels services are more vulnerable than the rest of the senior population. They require assistance with preparing food and have higher rates of depression and loneliness. 

Research conducted by Brown University’s Center for Gerontology and Healthcare Research investigated the impact of the meal delivery service and found the program provides more than just meals. 

Seniors reported improvement in mental health, reduction in the rate of falling, decreased feelings of loneliness and improved nutrition.  

Volunteers might stop for a quick conversation and welfare check to make sure seniors are safe and have had to call emergency responders before, according to Hazen. 

“We do make sure they’re OK, and there have been times where a driver has had to call 911,” Hazen added. 

The criteria for drivers are that they must be at least 21 years old and have five years of driving experience. Drivers will be trained to use Meal on Wheels vehicles with three ride-a-longs before going on their own.  

There have been moments when there weren’t enough volunteer drivers, but different staff members — including Hazen — have gone out to make meal deliveries. As a result, Meals on Wheels at the SCV Senior Center have never missed a meal delivery.  

“We could not do this program without our wonderful team of our volunteer drivers that we have now, Hazen said. “They are just amazing people that do this out of the goodness of their heart.” 

You can contact Robin Clough, the volunteer coordinator, for more information at [email protected]

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