Local Meals On Wheels rolls through pandemic to serve seniors

KENNEWICK, Wash. – More than a year into the pandemic, and Mid-Columbia Meals on Wheels hasn’t slowed down.

“We always say it’s not about us, it’s about the seniors we serve, and never were our volunteers and staff more in tune to that mission,” Kristi Thein said.

Although they had to close dining rooms, limit delivery service and offer frozen meals, they were able to open a drive-through pickup in Kennewick to assure local seniors are fed.

“None of our seniors ever had to miss a meal, it wasn’t the nice hot meal that they’re used to, but it was still good nutritious food that we were preparing ourselves,” Thein, the Nutrition Services Director said.

But, as guidelines loosen and more people are vaccinated, Meals On Wheels is beginning a return to normalcy.

This week, they started offering meal pickup five days a week, as opposed to three.

Thein said they couldn’t have powered through the pandemic without volunteers or employees like Denise Watt, who’ve given seniors more than just food.

“They’re glad to see you like I said, like you’re a personal friend, ‘oh we’re so glad you came today’ it makes your heart feel good,” Frida Dickson, a customer said.

“Seeing people, talking to somebody, having some companionship for a short period of time,” Watt said it was important for them to be a smiling face while seniors were in isolation.

“It’s a God send to us because my husband is in his 80’s and has health issues and the food here is good, it’s tasty, he has his favorites. I’m very thankful, Denise will tell you, when she said we’re gonna open five days a week I’m going, ‘oh good!'” Dickson exclaimed.

Now that more people are vaccinated, the team at Meals On Wheels is hopeful for 2021 and beyond.

“We’re hoping for full opening, Monday through Friday, hot meals at all our dining centers, and then home delivery, can’t wait for it to happen,” Thein said.

Meals On Wheels is available for homebound seniors who are 60 years old and over, you can learn more here.