MISSOULA — The concept for Meals on Wheels began in Great Britain during World War II, but few challenges since then have been as tricky as what we’ve seen during the pandemic.
However, even with more seniors to deliver to, a stricter protocol to follow, and budget constraints, Meals on Wheels in Missoula County has managed to navigate the bumpy road.
In addition to more safety requirements during pickup and delivery, the number of people served has gone up around 25%, with a peak of about 300 people.
Initially, the service was limited to just two days a week, with meals left for the other days. But that has increased now to four times weekly, allowing for a more regular check-in for people who can't get out.
Curtis Hammond with Missoula Aging Services told us that early on some drivers withdrew from the rotation, but the service is in much better shape now. Still, one of the challenges continues to be finances.
"Right now, we're seeing a surge in need. Our numbers have been up. I'm probably doing at least 20 more people a week than I anticipated serving. And with that, the cost of meals has been erratic," Hammond said.
He added that volunteers are what keep the program running.
Missoula Aging Services oversees Meals on Wheels, which delivers all over the county, including in the Seeley Lake area where some deliveries now originate.
Click here for more information on the Meals on Wheels program.