Meals on Wheels: A Bright Spot in the Pandemic - TribPapers

Meals on Wheels: A Bright Spot in the Pandemic

Donna Mann Belt checks her meal delivery route.

Asheville – Volunteers Ensure Seniors Are Not Forgotten

Altruism abounds during a time when food insecurity and isolation plague Buncombe County’s senior population. 

“Without a program like Meals on Wheels, many seniors would be left alone and hungry, with their independence in jeopardy—now brought even more to light with COVID,” says Debbie Sprouse, Executive Director of Meals on Wheels of Asheville-Buncombe County.

Many of the regular volunteers, who are mostly 65+, needed to step back from weekly meal deliveries to shelter at home, which could have jeopardized the ability for Meals on Wheels to deliver to their senior clients, five days a week. The nonprofit quickly regrouped and added a contactless delivery protocol to assure the safety of both volunteers and seniors. Those that continued to volunteer began picking up extra routes and donating more time to Meals on Wheels, all hoping that the large gap in helping hands would soon be filled. Fortunately, a new number of volunteers emerged to ensure that seniors were not forgotten.

“I started volunteering as a driver with MOWABC in April,” says Donna Mann Belt. “It’s hard to think of any other organization that provides so many services, utilizes volunteers in such an efficient manner, and has such impressive results. Delivering meals is very safe, and MOWABC takes every precaution, including mandatory masks and providing gloves,” continues Belt.

“As we approach the holidays, all of us at Meals on Wheels would like to express our thanks, appreciation, and gratitude to the multitude of volunteers who literally drive this nonprofit,” notes Sprouse. “We couldn’t thrive without them and are grateful that they helped our senior population during this time.”

“We’ve added nearly a hundred additional seniors to our service since March,” notes Meals on Wheels Volunteer Coordinator, Ma-Rita Alexander. “I venture to say we’ve added nearly that many new volunteers as well.” 

But despite the surge in volunteerism, there is still need. The biggest volunteer gap remains finding drivers for Enka-Candler and the Leicester areas. If interested in volunteering, please call Meals on Wheels of Asheville-Buncombe County at 828-253-5286.

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