The MCH Meals on Wheels is working to bring its meal delivery schedule back up to its five hot meals, five days a week schedule, but they announced that they need more volunteers.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, for the safety of its recipients and volunteers, MCH Meals on Wheels reduced its schedule to delivering meals two days per week, two hot meals and three frozen meals for five days.

“In June, we were able to scale the previous two days a week service up to three,” said Katie Tarbox, the program coordinator at MCH Meals on Wheels.

“This made a huge difference since recipients prefer daily hot meals.” Kitchen Manager Ernie Bullard adds that the Meals on Wheels program would like to increase to its normal five days as soon as feasible.

In addition to existing recipients, others needed meals delivered during the pandemic. Demand surged, and doesn’t appear to be returning to pre-pandemic numbers any time soon. MCH Meals on Wheels now serves 40% more meals than before the pandemic, and the numbers generally increase even more in the winter months.

“We are very proud that we add all new recipients as quickly as we can, often that day or week, and we operate without a waitlist,” Tarbox said. “Our volunteers are wonderful, but we just can’t handle adding on the much-needed additional two days without more volunteers.”

MCH Meals on Wheels delivers meals to people who are homebound and have difficulty preparing food for themselves. The program also serves people who need help short-term, such as after surgery or are recovering from an illness. As many seniors were isolated during the pandemic, the need for volunteers is more critical than ever. Many meal recipients say these volunteers are the people they see the most, and sometimes, the volunteers are the only people they see all day.

The volunteer drivers note it’s more than just delivering meals; they also develop neighborly friendships with the community.

“You just get to interact with people and help them in a meaningful way, and it’s good for me, and it’s good for them,” said Meals on Wheels volunteer Greg Jones from Machias Savings Bank.

To inquire about volunteering for MCH Meals on Wheels or to refer someone in need anywhere in Knox County, call Katie Tarbox, 701-9641, or email at ktarbox@mchinc.org