Stephanie Archer-Smith, M.S., Executive Director, Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland
For 60 years, Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland has delivered nutritious meals and support services to the homes of aging adults throughout Central Maryland, but never before has this service been more important.
“Never before has our purpose been more clear – to keep our seniors at home and out of the hospital,” says Executive Director Stephanie Archer-Smith. “With the closure of senior centers and social distancing in place, the demand for our service quickly escalated, nearly doubling in less than three weeks.
“For me, it wasn’t about if we could do it, it was about how we could do it,” says Archer-Smith, explaining just how the organization accomplished its mission:
“While the demand for food skyrocketed, Meals on Wheels quickly responded by reimagining its entire operation. In mid-March, in order to keep up with demand, we shifted our usual daily home delivery of a hot meal to a weekly meal pack complete with two ready-to-heat meals per day and all the extras like milk and fruit. These meals are designed to provide the necessary nutrients to remain healthy and safe at home, and meet the Maryland State Department on Aging’s nutritional requirements for adults over 60 years of age.
“Our volunteers stepped up, including the new ones, to take on meal packing shifts seven days a week. Those who deliver meals could no longer stay to visit with meal recipients on their delivery routes. They drop meal boxes off at doorsteps and volunteers with our Client Wellness Call program make phone calls to check in on clients.
“With the shift in our delivery and production models, the challenges we have faced have been related to space, resources, and volume. Our ability to be a flexible and nimble organization, including not skipping a beat when it came to remote working for our staff, was key in us answering the need based on what was happening in the community. We are now producing 75,000 meals each week (triple our pre-pandemic load) and are serving more than 3,500 people each day (double pre-pandemic). We recently surpassed 1.9 million meals produced, packed, and delivered.”
For more information on Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland’s COVID-19 response and impact, including volunteer and staff safety, visit mealsonwheelsmd.org/our-covid-19-impact/.
Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland
515 South Haven St., Baltimore, MD.
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