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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

Meals On Wheels Prepares For Coronavirus, Asks For Volunteers

Courtesy of Meals on Wheels of Southwest OH & Northern KY

Following other organizations in looking for healthy volunteers to meet demand, Meals on Wheels says it's ordering food supplies and needs help with deliveries.

"We have placed an order early enough, we believe, to ensure we are going to have enough food - including shelf-stable products - to serve all of our clients throughout the crisis," says Jennifer Steele, executive director of Meals on Wheels of Southwest OH and Northern KY, formerly Wesley Community Services.

The organization, which provides meals and some other services for low-income seniors, says it recently purchased 14-day supplies of shelf stable meals that it will be delivering in the coming weeks.

"We're requesting volunteers help to assemble shelf stable food boxes that we could get out immediately to people who may need meals right away because there is the potential for senior meal sites to close and we want to make sure we're prepared to get people food right away."

Volunteers, approximately 50 people in total, are needed. You can find more information here.

Steele says the organization is tightly controlling its production area to ensure what it is delivering is safe.

Meals on Wheels of Southwest OH & Northern KY serves about 2,000 clients in Greater Cincinnati, Greater Dayton and Northern Kentucky.

Five other organizations also offer Meals on Wheels services through the Council on Aging. Paula Reichle Smith with the Council on Aging says the organization has been in the planning stages of what might happen if it were unable to deliver meals or if it needed to end congregate meals.

"We have a plan to provide a box of shelf stable meals for seniors who receive meals through the county senior services tax levy programs (Elderly Services Program) – enough meals for 14 days," she says in an email to WVXU. "We’d like to deliver these meals soon – while regular service is still available. We’ll instruct clients to save these food boxes for use in the event we are unable to deliver their regular meals. We can also prioritize our clients based on need."

Right now, meal delivery is continuing as normal to clients across Butler, Clinton, Hamilton and Warren counties, she adds. "At some point, as things progress with COVID-19, we may have supply and workforce issues. That’s why we’re planning now."

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.