Volunteers making a difference in feeding seniors during the COVID-19 crisis

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted normal routines for many older adults who rely on meal programs at senior centers around the city.

But those much-needed meals are still available even though facilities are closed.

Antoinette Thompson says picking up lunch from the Marconi Center in South Philadelphia is something she looks forward to every day.

"I don't know what I would do without it," Thompson says. "And it's really good."

Caring People Alliance operates this community center with the Marconi older adult program, and the meals have become a lifeline, especially during this health crisis.

"It's really the core of our programming here, so that (people get) at least one nutritious, balanced meal a day," says Jerry Macdonald, President and CEO of Caring People Alliance.

"Since the beginning of the stay-at-home order, we've provided grab-and-go frozen meals for people to pick up and take home," says director Luke McKetta.

You don't need to be a member of the center to receive meals. But you should call ahead to make your meal reservation.

Philadelphia residents over age 60 are eligible for the meals.

Caring People Alliance is one of 28 organizations throughout the city providing meals with support from the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging. The prepackaged box meals all include a protein, vegetables and a starch.

The Marconi Center has also added a meal delivery service on Mondays, which includes a weeks-worth of meals and a letter to help ease social isolation.

"We have assembled a team of volunteers from across our parent agency to help us make those deliveries," McKenna says. "We're all wearing masks and gloves to make sure we're keeping ourselves and the members safe."

If you are interested in signing up for the older adult meal program at the Marconi Center or want to find a meal pick-up location in your area, call the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging helpline at 215-765-9040 or visit PCA Cares dot org.
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