Senior feeding program grows in Walker County, Alabama amid COVID-19 pandemic
One of the most considerable impacts made by The Salvation Army’s Walker County Service Center in Alabama is the Senior Feeding Program. The program started in 2019, and services have amplified due to COVID-19. Volunteers and staff deliver groceries to between 250-300 seniors every week, with a high of 400 one week. Groceries are taken to the homes of seniors, ages 60 and over, who cannot grocery shop for themselves due to illness, lack of transportation, or lack of money.
“When we do this, I’m cautious about what I purchase for those bags of groceries because these seniors have no transportation,” said Cynthia Smith, Walker County social services director. “They don’t have a family who is active in their lives, so they don’t have someone to take them to the store.”
“They’re at a high risk to complications from COVID-19 because of underlying health conditions or old age, so we try to pack complete meals. If we supply a box of hamburger helper, we’re also going to be sure to supply the meat and milk to go with it,” Smith added.
The Walker County Service Center also works with a produce truck that comes on Thursday mornings at 6 am local time to collect produce boxes, which typically contain milk, eggs, cheese, potatoes, and onions. Grocery bags are packed according to the supplies received from produce boxes. Reusable face masks are also placed in the boxes every few months to replace old or torn masks, with personal hygiene products, toilet paper, and other cleaning supplies also included in the delivery.
The service center also partners with the Walker County District Attorney’s Office for senior meal delivery for seniors under mandatory isolation and quarantine. The Salvation Army provides and packs the groceries, and police officers will deliver them to seniors who cannot leave their homes.
“If they need sugar, it’s in there. If they need flour, it’s in there. We make sure to pack whatever they may need,” Smith said. “When we take groceries, we knock on the door to let them know that we’ve delivered the groceries and step away. We know them so well now that sometimes we exchange air hugs or they’ll blow kisses. Sometimes they cry. One woman cried because it had been years since she’d last seen peanut butter.”
(Reprinted from the blog of The Salvation Army Alabama-Louisiana-Mississippi Division. Karyn Lewis is an ALM media relations specialist.)