CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — Once a place for Kanawha Valley seniors to dine and socialize, Kanawha Valley Senior Services’ nutrition sites have all but empty chairs since the pandemic hit.
Their kitchens, however, are as busy as ever, cooking meals for 700 seniors every day.
Kanawha Valley Senior Services executive director Paulette Justice says since COVID-19 began, meal deliveries increased by about 25%.
They’ve since had to adjust by delivering the meals in thermal containers and securing more cars for home deliveries.
The problem now is getting the meals to the seniors, as they’ve had issues recruiting and retaining drivers.
“We speculate on that all of the time that it just seems unusually difficult and I think with the stimulus and the unemployment, people are choosing to stay home,” said Justice.
The organization is in need of four additional part-time drivers.
Ken Selbe is one of eight drivers and he says he has about 33 people he delivers the meals to four days a week.
Selbe is a retiree and he says he likes the part-time flexibility.
“I didn’t want to sit home and do nothing and this job appealed to me for the hours and the service that it provides,” he said.
Both Justice and Selbe say the service is more than delivering a nutritious meal to seniors in a food-insecure state, it also provides a bit of that lost socialization many seniors are experiencing.
“We see some loneliness and depression set-in being isolated from their family members, it’s been really tough on the folks that we serve,” said Justice.