For More Information Contact:
Colleen Pillus, Communications Director (845) 486-2000
Colleen Pillus, Communications Director
Poughkeepsie, NY… Ensuring the health and safety of Dutchess County’s seniors, the County’s Office for the Aging (OFA) has significantly expanded its efforts to deliver meals to more than 720 seniors throughout the County during the COVID-19 pandemic in the past month. For the week of April 20-24, 2020, OFA delivered 4,665 meals to County seniors' homes, compared to 1,330 meals a week before the pandemic, an increase of 350.1 percent since COVID-19 first impacted Dutchess County in March.
As the need for home-delivered meals (HDMs) has increased due to social distancing guidelines and regulations prohibiting gatherings, including the closure of eight Senior Friendship Centers throughout Dutchess County, the OFA prepared and has implemented a plan to deliver more hot and ready-to-heat meals to seniors, now serving more than 440 additional clients than before the pandemic. Providing seniors more than nutritious and delicious lunches and dinners, the HDM program also helps prevent isolation among County seniors, as OFA volunteers offer social interaction – a friendly wave and a shout of “hello” as they deliver meal.
County Executive Marc Molinaro said, "The health and safety of our residents, particularly our most vulnerable populations, is a top priority for Dutchess County, and our Office for the Aging has rightly earned a spot in the hearts of countless local seniors for the unparalleled service it provides. Now, more than ever, the Office for the Aging is delivering critical meals and social interaction to keeping record numbers of seniors healthy and engaged during these unprecedented times."
Prior to the pandemic, Dutchess County OFA staff and volunteers provided home-delivered meals to roughly 270 seniors, who received weekday hot meal deliveries. Of those, 209 also received an evening meal delivered to their homes.
Over the last several weeks, 130 residents who formerly enjoyed hot congregate meals at the OFA's Senior Friendship Centers, have also being receiving deliveries of hot meals to their home each weekday.
Additionally, more than 320 seniors are now being served by OFA, receiving precooked, prepared, ready-to-heat meals. Each senior receives a weekly delivery of five different frozen meals, each of which contains a meat, a starch and a vegetable, as well as bread or roll, low-fat milks and sugar-free cookies.
Many of the clients also receive weekend prepared meal packages.
All OFA staff and volunteers are required to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including face coverings, when interacting with and delivering meals to homebound seniors.
OFA Director Todd Tancredi said, "Our Home-Delivered Meals program offers more than nutritious and delicious meals for seniors. Our delivery volunteers also provide our seniors with social interaction, which is now critically important, as many residents may feel isolated as distancing guidelines severely limit their contact with those outside their homes."
In preparation for the pandemic, OFA ordered and received last month an additional 7,500 frozen meals; and, with no definite end to the pandemic, has ordered 10,000 more meals.
The OFA headquarters at 114 Delafield Street in Poughkeepsie remain open with limited staff, though seniors are asked to call (845) 486-2555 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, as OFA personnel can handle many tasks without the need for seniors to leave their homes.
Additionally, OFA staff answers an average of 100 calls each day, many of which are inquiries about food resources or shopping assistance. Residents in critical need of food and other necessities can contact the Dutchess Responds Food Connection online or by calling the Dutchess County's Coronavirus Hotline at (845) 486-3555 and selecting Option 5.
Dutchess County Government continues to provide residents the most current information on its COVID-19 Community Impact Dashboard, and further updates and guidance are available on its website, dutchessny.gov/coronavirus, and its Facebook and Twitter accounts.