In a press release, Baca wrote: “ Meals on Wheels West volunteers and staff are on the front line, focusing on doing all they can to keep self-quarantining older Americans, veterans, the formerly homeless, the chronically ill and immune compromised people safe and nourished.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has increased the demand for Meals on Wheels in Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades, Malibu and the surrounding coastal communities,” he said. “There is Hidden Hunger even in the most affluent communities. In the last four months, the number of MOW West clients has grown by 49 percent.
“Our dedicated, brave volunteers are putting themselves on the frontline each time they deliver meals to their neighbors in need. Our clients and staff are grateful to them,” Baca said. “More than 200 volunteers have stepped forward and delivered more than 32,000 meals in the first four months of the Covid epidemic.”
MOW instituted strict preventive measures for volunteers and clients in early March. The number of delivery days was reduced, and social distancing delivery rules were instituted. Volunteers and staff wear masks and gloves and use disinfecting wipes. To date, not one volunteer, client or staff member has become infected.
Baca told Circling the News on August 6 that meal deliveries in the Palisades went from five days a week to three days a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Each delivery includes a hot meal for lunch and a sandwich or lite meal for dinner – and two frozen meals to be heated up for the next day. A resident can also request meals for the weekend. It is about $8 a day for the two meals.
About 10 percent of the residents pay the full price, 30 percent receive a subsidy and about 60 percent get the meals free. “None of our veterans pay,” said Baca, who yesterday had sampled the lunch meal, which included chicken, pasta and green beans. “It was delicious.”
When the Covid-19 shut-down happened, “We also asked those volunteers 60 and older to stop delivering,” Baca said, noting that many of those volunteers transferred to working the phone as a reassurance volunteer. “They call the client every week and check in on them. They ask if they need prescriptions, how they’re feeling.”
The Pacific Palisades Woman’s Club has volunteered with MOW for years.
“Our members enthusiastically deliver to clients in the Palisades,” said Robin Weitz, the club’s past president. She noted that because of Covid-19, “MOW West made immediate changes to their delivery process.”
Weitz said that volunteers arrive to pick up their meals for delivery at a designated time, wash hands before delivery, use hand sanitizer, and wear gloves and a mask.
“Clients are also called ahead of time — a virtual wellness check, and then another call is placed to leave the food at the door,” Weitz said, noting that this procedure is contactless and effective. “Clients are provided nutritious meals (hot and frozen) with a colorful variety of vegetables, fruit and protein. The phone calls reassure our clients that we are coming, and we care.
“It is a joy to be of service to this necessary and wonderful organization,” Weitz said.
Jim Cragg, Commander of American Legion Post 283 in Pacific Palisades said, “Meals on Wheels West has been very supportive to veterans of all ages in Palisades and the Westside for many years.”
Meals on Wheels West serve all persons, regardless of age, who are homebound and cannot purchase or prepare meals. The Covid-19 pandemic has created a huge new population of homebound clients that require MOW West’s services to stay safe and healthy. No one is denied service due to inability to pay for meals.
Volunteers are needed for delivery or via the phone to check in with clients, which can be done from one’s home. Donations are also welcome.