A lack of volunteers is hindering the CSRA Area Agency on Aging from serving almost 400 people on a waiting list for Meals on Wheels.
Currently, a partnership with Augusta’s Parks and Recreation Department allows three vehicles to distribute about 350 meals to seniors three days a week. Frozen meals provide some extra food the other days, but the need is growing, said Joyce Downs, senior services manager for Augusta-Richmond County.
“It’s the closest they can get to a home-cooked meal,” Downs said.
Volunteers are needed in all areas, from preparing and plating food in the kitchen to delivering. Barbara Brooks and Ralph Trumpler were preparing to fill the final role Monday morning as they loaded food trays onto a truck outside the Sand Hills Community Center on Wheeler Road. Deliveries are made Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9:30 a.m. until about 2:30 p.m. from three community centers: Sand Hills, Brigham Young and Carrie J. Mays.
Usually it takes about five hours to make 40 deliveries, with Trumpler driving and Brooks hopping out to make the delivery. The insulated compartments in the truck keep the meals hot and cold, but there’s still a limit on how many meals they can take without the food spoiling.
“With those restrictions, you’ve got to be fast,” Downs said.
Blazing hot days and pouring rain can make the route a chore some days, but the inconvenience is outweighed by the appreciation the senior citizens express, said Brooks.
For many of the home-bound people, a few minutes chatting at the door is the most human contact they’ll get all day.
“You fall in love with them; you really do,” Trumpler said.