With the excessive heat and unhealthy air forcing people to shelter inside, the services provided by Meals On Wheels become even more important.
Meals On Wheels drivers—all volunteers—not only deliver fresh food to shut ins, they also ensure peoples’ homes are cool and the indoor air is safe to breath.
The community is constantly reminded to check in on the elderly and people who live alone during extreme weather events, and that is exactly what Meals on Wheels does hundreds of times a day.
Meals on Wheels operates out of the Bend Senior Services Center on northeast 5th Street in Bend.
Each day dozens of volunteers deliver hundreds of freshly prepared meals to people who, for any number of reasons, are not able to obtain and prepare fresh food for themselves.
“It means I get a fresh meal every day and I don’t have to fix it,” said Myrna Nix, Bend. “I’ve found as I’ve aged it’s getting harder to do things. Fixing food and things like that is more difficult.”
“My mother is the motivator,” said Bill Sterling as he delivered meals on Wednesday. “She was very involved in Loaves and Fishes and Meals on Wheels. I learned from her and picked up the mantle when she stopped doing it.”
Sterling was looking for volunteer opportunities when he moved to Bend four years ago. He found them at Meals on Wheels, which is run by the Central Oregon Council on Aging.
“I’ve been driving a route since January. I’ve gotten to know some of the people. They are all very grateful for the meals, the attention and the services, so it’s very gratifying.”
The daily meal delivery becomes even more important in the excessive heat and unhealthy air quality now enveloping the region.
“We have a lot of people who don’t have air conditioning which is really problematic when there’s fires,” said Emma Fried-Cassorla, director of communications and programming for the Council on Aging of Central Oregon. “Air conditioning both cools and filters the air so we try make available different programs when we can. We try and make sure their emergency contacts check in on them more regularly.”
Deschutes County has designated The Council on Aging’s Senior Services Center as a clean air space.
When the air quality is poor, the facilities’ doors are open weekdays to individuals 60 and over.
The Council on Aging offers two main food services for seniors in the tri-counties: Meals on Wheels home delivered meals and community dining at five locations.