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Feed Seniors Now food drive sees success after adapting to pandemic

Nicole Henniger, Central Kitchen site manager for Washington Morgan Community Action Senior Nutrition Program, accepts a delivery of Blessing Bags from Comfort Keepers for Meals on Wheels recipients. (Photo Provided)

MARIETTA — The Mid-Ohio Valley came together to help Comfort Keepers of Mid-Ohio Valley collect 4,697 pounds of food through the Feed Seniors Now food drive for local seniors.

Feed Seniors Now is a national initiative of Comfort Keepers and runs Oct. 1 to Dec. 31. The local Comfort Keepers franchise has sponsored the food drive in the MOV since 2008.

This year, due to COVID-19, the members of the local Comfort Keepers team needed to think outside the box on how to increase access to food among the area’s seniors. They decided, in addition to the iconic red barrels at partner locations, they would offer drop ship options directly to the office and accept monetary donations.

“We asked the community to make food donations to help local seniors, and they came through with open arms,” said David Yeomans, CEO of Comfort Keepers. “It’s clear that the people of the Mid-Ohio Valley care deeply about the issue of senior hunger and are committed to helping our seniors live the best quality of life.”

Monetary donations were received by individuals and West Virginia National Insurance (Brick Insurance,) Circle of Grace of the International Order of the King’s Daughters and Sons-Parkersburg and Digital Mixology. The total was $1,190.

Donations totaling 133 pounds were shipped to the Comfort Keeper’s office and an anonymous donation of 359 pounds was delivered to a distribution partner, Faithlink, which is part of Community Resources Inc. in Parkersburg.

Collection site partners also performed well. With the red “Feed Seniors Now” barrel prominently displayed, hundreds of pounds were collected with St. Mary’s Elementary School leading the drive with 567 pounds collected.

The Parkersburg News and Sentinel was in second with 333 pounds, followed by Brick Insurance with 313 pounds, First Mutual Bank-Belpre with 242 pounds and Mrs. Dailey’s class at Parkersburg Catholic High School with 276 pounds, Belpre Dental Studios with 147 pounds, North Parkersburg Baptist Church with 132 pounds, Frontier Shopping Center Dollar General with 119 pounds, Parkersburg YMCA with 123 pounds, First Presbyterian Church-Parkersburg with 99 pounds, Professional Radiator and Tire with 83 pounds, First Mutual Bank-Parkersburg with 81 pounds, Marietta College Student Engagement Class with 55 pounds and the Grand Central Church of Christ with 11 pounds.

Distribution methods were also adapted to overcome current challenges. In Wood County, Faithlink added foods collected to the monthly food boxes delivered to seniors and stocked the food pantry at Market Manor senior high-rise apartments. In Washington County, blessing bags full of milk, juice, soup, vegetables, fruit, a protein and more were delivered to 33 recipients of Franciscan Meals and 157 recipients of Meals on Wheels.

“There are many factors that affect senior nutritional needs. It is not just about a lack of money. Getting to a store when you no longer drive or in bad weather are serious impediments also,” Yeomans said. “The donations collected will help seniors in our community and we hope that we were also able to raise awareness about how malnutrition significantly impacts quality of life.”

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