No one can question our resilience here at MOWGLV. We do a pretty good job planning for emergencies and, when the emergency arrives, we recover pretty quickly. We are tough and flexible, but it is about being prepared.
This is one of those weeks where preparation made the difference for our clients. I’m not saying that it was easy—for clients, volunteers and—but we managed, and will do so through this week and into the next storm.
But it’s hard. Our kitchen rescheduled deliveries and, since trucks weren’t allowed on the highways, those deliveries were pushed back even further. Our Food Services Director, Nick, drove to the office (in less than ideal conditions) on Tuesday to assess food supplies and the current number of available emergency frozen meals. He checked with all of the kitchen staff and planned on them coming in today at 8 a.m.—all but 2 of the 15 of them were able to get here. They prepared for tomorrow’s deliveries and made another emergency frozen meal. Today, he’s been reviewing the menu and determining how it might have to be adjusted for next week’s meals depending on when our deliveries get here. All you have to do is worry about bread, milk, eggs and TP at the grocery before a storm. Think about a shopping list for 1,500 meals per day!
We have done our best to prepare our clients for service interruptions. As you know, we provide 3 frozen meals and 3 shelf-stable meals. Ideally, they should be fine for 6 days of missed meal delivery. Unfortunately, we know that those extra meals may have been used up. Many of our clients are hungry and, sometimes, the only meal they get each day is one from us. A family member might eat one. The clients might forget why they have them and eat one. Although we try to plan for these emergencies, we still worry.
That’s why we ask all clients at intake, and at reassessment, whether they would have enough food on hand to last 3 days. We had a list of 46 clients who said they would not. Think about that. I could manage for weeks based on what’s in my pantry and freezer. One reason is that I have the means to stock my kitchen, and the other is that I can take several ingredients to prepare a meal. I might not be happy, and eating wouldn’t be as enjoyable, but I wouldn’t be worried about going hungry or even becoming ill. One of the criteria for receiving MOWGLV service is that our clients cannot prepare meals. A stocked pantry isn’t very helpful if you can’t get the contents of the can to your plate.
We reviewed that list of clients yesterday and staff reached out to all of them. Only about 5 said they had nothing. One client said he had only been eating a few cans of vegetables. Another said he has diabetes and was using a few nutrition shakes a neighbor had given him, but they were almost gone. He had been watching his blood sugar and was afraid he would have to go to the hospital.
Yesterday, I delivered to the client who only had canned vegetables. My dear husband was the “runner.” He jumped out to deliver, while I had to make two crazy huge loops to get back to him for pickup. (I am going to say that I was impressed by my driving skills). As Ron approached the house, a neighbor was relieved to see that we were making a delivery to this client. The client was in a wheelchair and was very hungry. He was most appreciative. I’m not sure he knew what we went through to get him two frozen meals and a shelf-stable box, but that didn’t matter.
Dana—our Northampton County case manager– is driving up to Pen Argyl today where there are 3 clients in great need. One is the diabetic client I mentioned. She is going to get him some groceries and take him 2 emergency meals. Then, she will check in on a couple who called in to say they had no food. Pat, our Operations Manager, will deliver to a client in Hellertown on her way home. I’m grateful those are the only clients who were in difficult circumstances—at least, that we know of.
Thanks to those of you who said you would make emergency deliveries for us today. Knowing that you are there ready to help out is reassuring and it makes it easier for us to handle these emergencies.
It is imperative that we are able to deliver meals tomorrow and Friday. We need to replace emergency meals and check on our clients, especially as the forecast for Friday and Monday is worrying.
Thanks for all your support, especially when we are in the midst of this kind of week. We know that you will do your best to help us care for our clients.