Burlington County delivers more than 50,000 meals to seniors during coronavirus pandemic

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Burlington County has delivered more than 50,000 meals to homebound senior citizens as part of the county’s continuing effort to assist vulnerable residents during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“The pandemic has been hard on all of us, but most of all our seniors. Many of them have felt isolated inside their homes due to the virus,” Burlington County Board Director Felicia Hopson said in a prepared statement on Sept. 24. “Through our county Meals on Wheels program, we’ve made sure anyone homebound can still get a nutritious, homemade meal regularly.”

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Meals on Wheels provides a homemade and well-balanced meal to eligible seniors age 60 or older. While the program existed prior to the pandemic, demand has ballooned during the last five months due to the pandemic, according to the statement.

From April through August, the program delivered just over 51,000 meals to seniors, a 17% increase compared to the same five months last year, according to the statement. The program has delivered meals to just over 630 clients each week.

In addition to Meals on Wheels program, the county also operates a Congregate Nutrition Program that serves lunches for seniors at four nutrition sites in Beverly, Bordentown, Moorestown and Mount Holly, as well as at the Browns Mills Senior Center in Pemberton Township. As part of the program, the county contracts with drivers to transport eligible seniors to the nutrition sites for the weekday meals and social activities.

The congregate nutrition sites have remained closed due to the pandemic and many of the seniors who participated in the daily meals at the sites have enrolled in the Meals on Wheels program, according to the statement.

“That’s 600-plus seniors who didn’t have to brave crowds at supermarkets or fend for themselves for food, plus our drivers safely interact with the seniors they serve. Even that brief interaction and sense of camaraderie with our drivers can be helpful during this time when many of our vulnerable residents feel so isolated,” said Hopson, who serves as the board’s liaison to the Department of Human Services and Office on Aging.

Citing the program’s importance, the county board voted unanimously on Sept. 23 to extend its contract with Colonial Village Catering Services Inc., a Pemberton Borough-based catering business, to supply meals for both Meals on Wheels and the Congregate programs.

Colonial Village is expected to prepare more than 185,000 meals next year, according to the statement.

“The Meals on Wheels program is exactly the kind of service our county provides that many of our residents rely upon. It was a lifeline before the pandemic hit, but the crisis has magnified its importance,” Hopson said in the statement. “I’m so proud of the work our Office on Aging is performing to help our seniors through this challenging time.”

Seniors wishing to enroll in the program or seeking more information can call the Office on Aging at 609-702-7053 or email BCOfficeonAging@co.burlington.nj.us.

Residents wishing to donate to support the Meals on Wheels and Seniors Congregate Nutrition programs can send checks to Burlington County Office on Aging, 49 Rancocas Road, P.O. Box 6000, Mount Holly 08060.

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