It’s often the highlight of their day: seeing a car drive up, being greeted by a friendly face, and receiving a hot meal.
LifeCare Alliance prides itself on providing meals to seniors in the central Ohio area, and is especially proud that the organization has no wait list for its popular Meals on Wheels program. Many similar programs around the state and across the country reportedly have wait lists in the thousands.
Founded in 1898 as the Instructive District Nursing Association, LifeCare Alliance provides a comprehensive array of health and nutrition services to residents of Franklin County and many other counties in Ohio.
As COVID-19 swept into central Ohio, LifeCare Alliance saw a surge in need for meal delivery to seniors throughout the community. Photo courtesy of LifeCare Alliance.
When COVID-19 struck, senior centers and dining facilities serviced by LifeCare Alliance were shuttered. Chuck Gehring, President and CEO of LifeCare Alliance, said his organization had to pivot to continue serving clients who utilized those services, as well as to address a surge of additional older residents in need.
“A lot of people depend on the meal we provide, from both a nutritional and financial standpoint,” explained Gehring.
Before the pandemic, about 800 people were receiving meals, either at a senior dining center or one of the senior living facilities. While those 800 individuals began receiving Meals on Wheels after the dining facilities closed, there were also more than 2,000 new clients requesting help. These seniors had previously relied on a relative or friend to take them to the store or bring groceries to them. Even with special shopping hours implemented by local grocers for sensitive populations, many were afraid to go out.
“They all were able to get along just fine before the pandemic, but this was a different ball game,” Gehring said.
We’re one of the very few cities, thanks to the generosity of The Columbus Foundation and the rest of the community, that has been able to say ‘you’re covered.’
CHUCK GEHRING, President and CEO of LifeCare Alliance
As of mid-May, LifeCare Alliance was delivering an average of 5,000 meals a day to Meals on Wheels clients, 65 percent more than they were on March 1. Throughout the pandemic, LifeCare Alliance has also continued to provide meals to individuals and families through the Columbus Cancer Clinic and Project OpenHand, a program for men, women, and children living with HIV/AIDS in central Ohio and their families.
Thanks to Columbus Foundation donors, and generous corporate support, LifeCare Alliance was able to shift resources within the organization and increase the number of meals being produced, all while keeping its core purpose, “to serve those in need, through compassionate, responsive, quality care.”