MEDFORD, Ore. — With temperatures topping over 100 degrees, Food & Friends officials say seniors are at extra risk. The home delivery service and food kitchen is giving extra notice to their older and more vulnerable clients.
Food & Friends delivers roughly 750 meals a day to seniors, most of which are over 80 and living on their own. They can have as many as a hundred volunteers working at a time, and they say on days like today, those going door-to-door are needed more than ever.
Cecil Michael is one of the people being visited. He says it might be the only contact he gets all day.
“The first thing they do when I open the door [is say], ‘are you alright today?’,” said Cecil. “That means a lot to me, a real lot.”
Cecil has been living on his own since his wife died fourteen years ago. Now at 94-years old, he says it’s hard to accomplish even the simplest of things.
“It’s very frustrating, it still is,” said Cecil. “I have to yell for help for anything I do.”
And Cecil is doing comparatively well. Volunteers with Food & Friends say many of the over 1400 people they serve door-to-door each year are extremely vulnerable. A walk outside in the heat might not be as simple as it sounds.
“Most of these people are in their late 80’s and 90’s and they’re living on their own in their own home, so things can happen anytime,” said volunteer Andi Cronk. “A lot of them have family, but the family’s not close.”
Tuesday alone, about 750 meals will be delivered, each with a safety checkup. Even more seniors are being served in their Holly Street kitchen. But the service, which gets nearly two-thirds of its money from federal sources, may be in for tough times because of the sequester.
“We don’t know if it’s going to be best case or worst case scenario, in the last three months we’ve seen a loss of about $30,000,” said Program Manager Evelyn Kinsella.
Kinsella says they’ve never had to put someone on their waiting list, and now they’re starting a donation drive to make sure they don’t have to.
“I do not want to be the person to say to an 84-year old Cecil, ‘thank you for calling, but we’ll have to put you on a waiting list’,” said Kinsella. “That is not what anybody wants to hear.”
Cecil says he agrees. An ‘are you alright’ may not seem like much, but sometimes it is.
“They just… it’s just nice,” said Cecil. “That’s all there is to it.”