COVID-19: Meals on Wheels announces changes; Council on Aging offices closed

Central Oregon’s Council on Aging announced Tuesday it was temporarily changing some operations due to the COVID-19 outbreak, including implementing a “no-contact” delivery method for its popular Meals on Wheels program and grab-and-go meals from the community center.

The agency’s hours remain the same: Monday – Friday from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm.

However, in order to keep staff and volunteers safe, the agency’s office at 373 NE Greenwood in Bend is now closed to the public. Staff will continue to provide information, referral and support services for seniors, caregivers and family members by phone only for the foreseeable future.

“We are making changes to our operations to ensure the safety of our employees, clients and our volunteers,” says Susan Rotella, Executive Director of the Council on Aging of Central Oregon. “Because we work with an older population that is more vulnerable to the effects of the coronavirus, we are being especially vigilant in light of the current health threats.”

Other temporary operational modifications adopted by the Council on Aging include:

1. Meals on Wheels home-delivery will continue using a non-contact delivery method. The Meals on Wheels delivery service is suspending hand-to-hand delivery and requiring volunteers and clients to keep a six-foot distance from each other.

2. Seniors (60+) who regularly dine at Council on Aging’s Bend Community Center location at 1036 NE 5th Street for free lunches on Thursdays will now be provided a take-home meal. Our nutrition center, which recently scored 100 out of 100 from a Deschutes County public health inspection, is taking even more care with hygiene and food preparation. Take-home lunches will be available for pick up between 12 noon and 12:30 p.m. on a first come first served basis each Thursday until further notice.

3. To learn how our tri-county partners are modifying their senior nutrition programs, you can find details on our COVID-19 update page.

4. All free Medicare counseling (SHIBA) provided by trained Council on Aging volunteers will be provided over the phone until all offices and senior centers reopen to the public. Interested parties can make an appointment by calling: (541) 678 – 5483 x 211.

5. While the agency remains grateful to its wonderful volunteers, all volunteers who have a cough or have symptoms of the flu, or who have been exposed to someone with flu symptoms are being required to stay at home rather than risk exposing seniors, caregivers, and other volunteers.

6. Information and referral services will continue over the phone for the tri-county area Monday through Friday from 8:00am to 4:30 pm. People can reach the Council on Aging with questions at (541) 678-5483. Information and referral services offered by the Council on Aging staff in local senior centers will not be available until the senior centers reopen for business.

The Council on Aging is taking these temporary but important extra steps to keep our seniors, caregivers, employees and volunteers safe during these ever changing circumstances. For a list of the latest program updates for seniors in Central Oregon, please see our COVID-19 website page.

The agency reminds the community that it continues to provide Meals on Wheels, case management, and information and referral services to Central Oregon seniors during this crisis. We would also like to acknowledge the many offers of volunteer support, as well as food donations, especially from Birdie’s Cafe and Riff Taproom. If you would like to contribute to help us provide services for the increasing number of older adults in need during this trying time, please click here.

To find out more, contact the Council on Aging of Central Oregon at (541) 678-5483 or councilonaging.org

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