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Milwaukie, Oregon City, West Linn programs count on community support, donations

COVID-19 restrictions are in place, but Meals on Wheels programs in both Milwaukie and Oregon City are still delivering food to the senior community that needs them.

COURTESY PHOTO: HAMID SHIBATA BENNETT - Lesley Carmody, a volunteer for the Milwaukie Center's Meals on Wheels Program, delivers extra food during the COVID-19 crisis.

Milwaukie Center

"We appreciate all the community outreach and support and will do everything possible to continue this vital service through the length of the pandemic. We, as staff, are taking every precaution to be healthy and safe because we know that the people we serve are counting on us," said Kathi Schroeder, nutrition program coordinator for the North Clackamas Parks & Recreation District's Milwaukie Center Meals on Wheels program.

Volunteers are limited to Meals on Wheels delivery drivers only and are not allowed in the kitchen. All food is handed off outside on a makeshift counter.

"Volunteers who pick up day-old donations at our supporting businesses are also still volunteering, but not able to come into the kitchen. So far, our food deliveries from our supplier are uninterrupted," Schroeder said.

"We are operating with the same staff members every day for meal dish-up and packing. Drivers are asked to keep their distance from each other when they pick up their food outside," she said.

The program currently is serving about 215 people per day; this reflects an increase from 180 on March 17. Every day there are new referrals to the program, Schroeder said, noting that the program serves those who live in the North Clackamas Parks & Recreation District, including from Carver to 172nd Avenue and Foster Road, and from the Happy Valley area to the Gladstone border.

Community support

"We have changed our delivery protocol to calling each client when we arrive to let them know we are hanging the food on their door. If they do not answer the phone, we knock and they will knock back without opening the door," Schroeder said.

Drivers also ask clients if they are OK at the same time.

Schroeder said the program needs new, unused, one-time-use plastic grocery bags so that drivers can hang food on the clients' doors. These bags are still available online and at local food supply stores.

This month is March for Meals, Schroeder said, adding that if community members can afford a financial donation, it would be greatly appreciated.

"Fundraising is vital to our operations, as no client is turned away for inability to donate. Every dollar, up to $10,000, will be matched by Bob's Red Mill," she said.

"We have always had amazing, dedicated volunteers and only a few have been unable to deliver, mostly by their family's request. Many are delivering more than once a week and eagerly wish to deliver more often," Schroeder said.

"As our numbers increase, new routes may be added so that even those who have contacted me in the community will have an opportunity to help out."

Anyone in need is encouraged to call the Milwaukie Center at 503-653-8100 "and we will do our best to help; we are here for you."

Those wishing to make a donation to the program may also call the center at the number above.

Pioneer Adult Community Center

The city of Oregon City's Meals on Wheels program operates out of the Pioneer Adult Community Center. The service is provided to residents in Oregon City, Beavercreek, Redland, Holcomb and West Linn.

"We have incredibly dedicated and caring staff members who are supported wonderfully by our volunteers. We look forward to the day when this crisis passes and we can get those volunteers back on line. Until then, it is critical that we keep everyone home and as safe as possible," said Don Robertson, interim director for Oregon City's Parks & Recreation Department.

He said he spoke with Kathy Wiseman, the Pioneer Center's manager, and together they came up with the following comments about the Meals on Wheels program:

"Meals are prepared at a central kitchen then distributed to the various senior centers for delivery. We sanitize these deliveries and package them for our clients," Robertson said.

Because Meals on Wheels clients are the most vulnerable population, drivers leave meals on the porch, usually in a cooler, ring the doorbell or knock, and then step away to their vehicles.

"Our goal is to limit direct contact. We have begun following up with a phone call to some clients to make sure their meal was received and to provide contact," he said.

The Oregon City program delivers to about 100 clients a week, but numbers fluctuate based on client needs.

Usually, every other Monday, drivers deliver pet food to clients who need assistance feeding their pets. But currently, this program through Friends Involved in Dog Outreach is available on a very limited basis.

"The community needs to stay home and save lives per the governor's order," Robertson said.

"Staff is handling all the deliveries at this time and does not anticipate any changes. Our Meals on Wheels program operates through the generosity of fellow community members; donations can be made online at bit.ly/2WTU6pt."


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