Many nonprofits have had to step up their efforts during the pandemic. One of those is Meals on Wheels.
“Send out extra meals and things, yeah, that’s what we’re here for. [To] help people out,” said Gary Armstrong.
Gary’s the head cook for Tompkins County Meals on Wheels and he’s been making meals in the same kitchen for 20 years. Lately, they’ve been making 700 a day.
“Making sure people have food out there, taking care of people that can’t get what they need to, that’s why I come to work,” said Armstrong.
“I know it brings a lot of help to the senior citizens of the county,” said Lead Cook Kathy Boronkay. “Come in, 6 o’clock in the morning, get started, try to have it all ready by quarter after 9, 9 o’clock. It’s one thing right after the other every morning.”
The pandemic brought an increase in demand for Meals on Wheels in Tompkins County. They delivered 22,000 more meals in 2020 than they did in 2019.
“March of 2020, we all buckled in, became a huge team. We’ve done a lot more meals for the people that need it for the pandemic and everything. We’ve just, we’ve been nonstop, we have not had to close,” said Boronkay. “Serve as many people as we can.”
“It has been the best job that I have ever had,” said Sophia Dinehart, a driver with Meals on Wheels of Tompkins County.
Sophia’s only been with Meals on Wheels a short time, but she contributes to the 9,000 miles they drive every month.
“It’s one of those jobs that doesn’t feel like work and it’s not because it’s necessarily easy, it’s just because it genuinely feels like what I’m doing here matters,” said Dinehart. “No one told me that I would get so attached to the clients and even the clients’ dogs, that’s a plus of the job, is just bringing treats for all them because it just feels good to connect with them and recognize what’s important in their life.”
People like Sophia bring more than a meal. If you want to help, you can volunteer with your local Meals on Wheels program.