Stanly’s Meals on Wheels program keeps rolling during shutdown


ALBEMARLE — During the July 6 meeting of the Stanly County Commission, Becky Weemhoff, director of Stanly County Senior Services, told the board that the Meals on Wheels program has had to make adjustments but has still been able to deliver meals to needy area seniors. 

“What has been nice is then when COVID hit, the meal program continued on,” Weemhoff said. “We had to do things differently.”

She said that since they couldn’t bring their usual “congregate” meal recipients to a community site to eat together, they had to create a grab-and-go system. The program did grab-and-go meals three times a week, but then had to eventually move to frozen meals. 

Commissioner Bill Lawhon asked about Golden Corral and how they were performing their contract in the Meals on Wheels program. Weemhoff said it was going well, and, “Actually, we’re starting a two-year bid with them.”

Golden Corral has been able to produce the large volume of frozen meals needed and has been doing the same for surrounding counties’ programs as well. 

“So they put out a lot of meals. In fact their restaurant in Lexington, half of it they converted into a staging area for all these meals they were doing. So it’s worked out well,” Weemhoff said. “We would have struggled if we had had a caterer that couldn’t accommodate so many meals. And we had like 130 or 140 home delivery meal clients every day. And if you multiply that by seven, it’s almost 1,000 meals. But that’s a lot of meals to be prepared and to be brought here on Monday morning and to be issued.” 

Lawhon then asked about the frozen meals and how seniors were to prepare those.

“They are in microwave containers, yes. There are seven meals, or in one case it was five for a while,” Weemhoff said. “We put the meals in their freezer and they get out one meal a day. They could eat three meals a day if they wanted to.”

Weemhoff said a major difficulty for their operation during the pandemic has been getting people who are willing and able to deliver with the risks involved.  

“At times, we sort of struggled getting volunteers who wanted to come out and deliver, but people stepped up,” she said. “Under normal times, they deliver once a month or maybe twice a month, but during the COVID part, and whenever we kept running when things shut down, some of them delivered every week if not a couple times a week.”

“And I guess anybody that is interested in volunteering to deliver meals, they need to see you?” Lawhon asked.

“Yes, that would be great. Thank you,” Weemhoff responded.

Weemhoff was speaking about the Meals on Wheels program as part of her presentation on the Aging Funding Plan. This is part of the overall Stanly County budget plan and deals with the Home and Community Care Block Grant funds that go to the seven aging programs she oversees at the Stanly County Senior Services Department.

These seven programs are: In-home Aid Level 1, In-home Aid Level 2, Congregate Meals, Home-delivered Meals, General Transportation, Medical Transportation, and Senior Center Operations. For Fiscal Year 2020-21, she requested $448,582 be approved. This is also the exact amount of grant funds they were anticipating receiving, so the funds would not be in competition with any other Stanly County budget priorities. 

“I respectfully request that the FY 2020-21 Aging Funding Plan for Stanly County for $448,582 be approved and that these funds be adopted into the FY 2020-21 county budget,” Weemhoff said at the end of her presentation. 

A motion from Commissioner Mike Barbee was offered to approve the Aging Funding Plan as presented, which was seconded by Commissioner Lawhon. The motion carried 6-0.