CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KWWL) -- Many older Iowans rely on congregate meal sites for nutrition and socialization, but with senior centers and Encore Cafe's forced to shut their doors area agencies are making arrangements to make sure no one misses a meal.
Heritage Area Agency, along with Horizons, and HACAP, have turned to drive-thru meal sites.
The program started today, March 24th and will run until normal Encore Café operations can resume. The pickup details are:
- Tuesdays at St Marks UMC, 4700 Johnson Ave NW. Participants should enter via Johnson Ave.
- Thursdays at Marion Public Library’s vacant lot across 11th St. Participants should enter via 11th St.
- Pickup times are assigned by the first letter of the participant’s last name
- A – F from 11:30 am – 11:50 am
- G – M from 11:50 am – 12:10 pm
- N – Z from 12:20 pm – 12:30 pm
Heritage's Community Engagement Coordinator, Harrison March said the agency identified the need and determined drive-thru picks-ups was the best solution.
"A lot of folks, whether it's one meal a week or one meal a day, depend on nutrition services for older adults in our region," said March.
Today, at least 50 people have reservations to pick-up meal boxes and frozen food.
"A lot of them are regulars at the normal encore cafe, but we also had a really high number of reservations today which is encouraging to see," said March
Frozen meals are provided by Horizons, while HACAP put together meal boxes that can last households about a week.
"It's a sustainable solution they can get them once a week, they get five meals when they come through so really just trying to find efficient ways so we can still make sure we're practicing social distancing, but also maintaining our service delivery," said March.
The site also reduces the time the participants, who are at higher risk, have to spend at the grocery store.
Marilee Short has never eaten at Encore but heard about the program in the paper and wanted to participate.
"It's nice to know that you can do that and it'll be something that I don't have to cook now for five days so I have five meals for five days so it'd be nice," said Short.
Francis and Betty King are regulars at encore and said it's been tough to be cooped up inside.
March said employees and staff also hope to give them something to smile about.
"Even today to have the opportunity to get out of the house, get their nutrition needs met, and then interact with some of our staff and volunteers as well, just to try to brighten their day a little bit beyond the meal part of it," said March.
If you're not a Cedar Rapids resident March said to check your local Aging Agency for arrangements in your area.
To quality, participants must be 60-years and older.
Reservations are required by 1:00 p.m. the day prior to pickup to ensure enough meals are available. Reservations can be made by calling Becky Briggs at (319) 398-2585.