Under normal circumstances the Booneville Senior Activity Center is abuzz with activity around lunchtime as a staff of six prepares meals for more than 50 seniors who make their way to the center and another 85 for home delivery.
Of course the center, like any other gathering place or meal service provider, is closed to normal activity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However a small crew distributed continues to deliver meals to seniors.
When the center shut down on March 17, the crew delivered enough meals for 52 home bound seniors. to eat lunch every day through March 30.
On Tuesday of last week a crew of three — senior center director Kayleigh Bynum, Sally Hardin and David Webster — made deliveries for another 14 days to more than 60 seniors in residences from Sugar Grove to Blue Mountain to Ione to Brownsville and many points in between.
The trio was able to make last week’s deliveries because the center received hefty donations form ConAgra in the form of 1,008 frozen meals and meals and other items donated by Walmart, according to Bynum.
Bynum said the center also collected produce from the Trinity Pentecostal Chuch in Magazine’s food pantry.
Some seniors who were typically on the Meals On Wheels program opted out of the service, Bynum said as they are being checked on regularly by family members or because they simply do not want outside contact, due to the extreme risk the virus has posed to the elderly globally.
For addresses receiving the meals, contact is limited to visual. The delivery agent needs to see the senior but does not enter the residence.
“We have to see them,” Bynum said.
“It’s a knock and walk,” said Hardin.
Tuesday’s delivery was for 14 days, which should allow the recipients one meal per day through April 14, after which time another round of meals will be necessary.
That presented a problem for some seniors because they lack that amount of freezer space. Consequently some accepted a delivery of only seven meals last week.
While the meal was a drawing point to those who would come to the center daily, or near daily, it wasn’t the only one because it was the only social interaction some would have on most, or any given day, Bynum said.
That has resulted in a few typical regulars requesting to be added to the program.
The meals provided seniors are as in line with nutrition regulations as possible Bynum said.
“They’re not the greatest but we still try to follow the guidelines as close as possible,” she said.