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Coronavirus: Meals on Wheels Central Texas makes delivery changes

The organization is taking extra precautions to protect the most vulnerable populations.

AUSTIN, Texas — Editor's note: On March 31, Meals on Wheels said it will begin providing two week's worth of meals at each delivery to cut back on interactions.

Nonprofit Meals on Wheels Central Texas, which provides food to the community’s most at-risk population, is taking extra precautions as the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) continues.

On Friday, the organization revealed it will change its delivery protocol to cut down on close, face-to-face interaction as much as possible.

Effective immediately, volunteers will start putting meals down near the front door of the client before ringing the doorbell and moving back from the door at least 6 feet as they wait for clients to collect their meals.

“There won’t be any interaction," said Otis Fields, who has volunteered with Meals on Wheels since the 1980s. "I’ll stand back, ask, 'How are you? You okay? Anything you need?' And then I’ll leave.”

If a client does not come to the door, volunteers will call Meals on Wheels to call the client. If the client cannot be reached, the meal will be given to another client on the delivery route. Meals will not be allowed to remain on the porch.

Volunteers with the nonprofit will be asked to stay home if they are ill.

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Starting Monday, and for the foreseeable future, Meals on Wheels will prepare and deliver frozen meals. 

“In order to be prepared in the event there’s a disruption to our meal-delivery service, we’ve started to prepare frozen meals so that we can get in the hands of our clients as quickly as possible as many meals as they would need," said Adam Hauser, president and CEO of Meals on Wheels Central Texas

Spokesperson Thad Rosenfeld said the organization will be getting a two-week supply of "shelf-stable" meals to be delivered alongside the frozen meals if needed. These meals would be delivered if Meals on Wheels had to suspend its delivery program. 

Volunteers will be bringing 10 frozen meals to seniors this week along with five shelf-stable meals this week and next week.

“A lot of our clients are not able to prepare their own meals, so these are ready-made meals, nutritious meals, that the client, all they have to do is open the meal and eat it like a regular meal," Hauser said.

“At the same time, we are sharing with our homebound clients important tips for reducing the risk of contracting COVID-19,” the organization said. “We are also stressing to clients to the importance of contacting their healthcare provider should they develop a fever or respiratory issues.”

Meals on Wheels Central Texas delivers around 3,000 meals every day to homebound older adults and people with disabilities. The program is free of charge.

RELATED: Shop for Central Texas seniors in need through Groceries to Go program

More information on the organization’s response to COVID-19 can be found on the Meals on Wheels Central Texas website.

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