Milwaukie-Portland Elks Lodge No. 142 recently donated $2,000 to North Clackamas Parks & Recreation District's Meals on Wheels program.
"With COVID-19 making a significant impact on the Meals on Wheels program, the Lodge couldn't think of a better way to help their community than to choose their program for their Gratitude Grant project," said Emma Pletz, executive secretary of the Oregon State Elks Association.
The check was presented to Milwaukie Center Nutrition Program Coordinator Kathi Schroeder by the Oak Grove Lodge's Exalted Ruler Scott White.
Milwaukie Center's Nutrition Program has operated Meals on Wheels for over 40 years, serving Milwaukie, Clackamas, Happy Valley and certain areas of Portland. At the beginning of March, the program was serving approximately 180 meals a day to the area's homebound seniors. When COVID-19 struck, Milwaukie Center phones "rang off the hook" from new clients, and numbers jumped to an all-time high of 250 meals in three weeks.
The federal government funds approximately one half of the cost of each meal, and the remainder of the Meals on Wheels budget is made up by fundraising and the generous support of partners in the community.
In addition to the recent grant from the Milwaukie-Portland Elks, the Clackamas Rotary contributed $3,000 and many individuals have sent checks ranging from $5 to more than $1,000. Schroeder said every dollar helps in the program's efforts to ensure that "no senior goes hungry." The Milwaukie Center reports that its Meals on Wheels staff have not missed a scheduled day of service nor turned down a request for meals since the pandemic began.
"We could not continue to provide this service without the financial support of our community," Schroeder said. "Most volunteer drivers that were already in place prior to COVID continue to deliver the meals with longer routes and taking on more days. Additional community members called in to help in any way they could. Some were enlisted as drivers and some sent in financial support, or both."
Unfortunately, volunteers that helped with packing of the meals at the Milwaukie Center were called off, and staff stepped in to replace them.
"We have had the same staff members cooking, packing and serving the food since mid-March," Schroeder said. "No volunteers are allowed inside the building, everything is placed outside for pick up."
Deliveries have only changed in the way that volunteers hand the food off to clients.
"We phone the client to tell them we will be hanging their meal on the door in a single-use bag," Schroeder said. "We continue to make daily contact with our clients to ensure the safety of their well-being. For many of our clients, this one daily, distanced interaction is the only human contact they receive in a given day."
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