(Editor’s note: This is part of a larger, more comprehensive story by Lisa Hornung about The J’s efforts to continue serving the community during the coronavirus pandemic. For her complete coverage, read the March 27 issue of Community.)
During the coronavirus outbreak, The J is closed to the public, but that doesn’t mean it stops engaging with the community. In fact, Tara Stone, senior adult programming director, and her volunteers are making sure seniors are getting the food they need.
Normally, Stone and her crew deliver meals to around 35 people through their Meals on Wheels program, and they feed people through daily lunches.
Now, Stone and company are delivering meals to about 50 people, and she expects that number to grow as more seniors realize they need the service.
“It’s a very uncertain time for everyone,” Stone said, “and I’m sure it’s especially scary for those who can’t get out or don’t have a lot of contact with people.”
Meals on Wheels is only delivering twice a week now, with one hot meal and two frozen ones in order to limit the amount of contact with people. Volunteers are careful to keep their distance, not going into homes or giving hugs. Hence the name they have given to the effort: drive-by deliveries.
The deliveries are coming with a little something extra: quarantine kits, including adult-oriented coloring books and puzzles — all intended to keep seniors’ minds occupied during their isolation.
“I like that we’re able to offer this to them,” Stone said. “At least, we can see them a couple times a week and know they’re doing OK, and they can see us, giving them some sort of sense of security.”
Keeping an eye on the seniors and making sure they’re OK is an added benefit of the program.
“We actually had one of our members call [Friday] morning and she can’t find toilet paper,” Stone said. The team has been actively trying to find some for her.
Stone is also collecting donations for a pet food drive to enable seniors to keep their pets fed while they’re unable to get to stores.
To contribute to the pet food drive, or to schedule a drive-by delivery, email Stone TStone@JewishLouisville.org,