Have meals, must travel: RSVP volunteers ensure meal delivery to homebound seniors continues

Every day, George* looks forward to his home-cooked meal delivered by Dave*, a volunteer with Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota's Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP).

At noon, Dave arrives with a smile and a balanced lunch. Because George is homebound and his children live out-of-state, the meal-delivery service allows him to maintain his independence and ensures he continues to get nutritious meals.

Nearly 8 percent of senior citizens in America face food insecurity, according to the AARP. George is among this population. When the coronavirus outbreak began, George was really worried that the meal delivery service would stop.

However, committed volunteers like Dave found a safe way to continue providing seniors like George with consistent and healthy meals. Now, George receives a weekly delivery of frozen meals at his front door.

Like all other programs at Lutheran Social Services, RSVP needed to get creative and find new ways to deliver services amid social-distancing guidelines.

Under normal conditions, RSVP volunteers give of their time to ensure that homebound individuals receive home-delivered meals, have transportation to medical appointments and can find comfort and connection from a companion to mitigate social isolation and loneliness,” said Nancy Olson, RSVP Team Lead, LSSND.

While all in-home visits and face-to-face services have paused, the volunteers with RSVP are continuing to serve their communities in modified ways. For example, volunteers who provided face-to-face companionship are now spending time with clients virtually via phone, FaceTime, email, text or social media.

“There will always be people in need, and our RSVP volunteers know that,” said Olson.

In addition to modifying existing services, RSVP coordinators are increasing capacity to provide a network of “phone companionship” for those who are experiencing loneliness during this time of social isolation.

“We continue looking for ways we can be of service safely and for ways we can adapt service to make a difference in the lives of others." – Olson.

Anyone who is 55 years of age or older who is interested in volunteering with RSVP can contact Nancy Olson at nancyo@lssnd.org.

To read more about how LSS is supporting seniors through COVID-19, click here.

*All names have been changed to protect client privacy.

The Retired Senior Volunteer Program networks with local agencies all across North Dakota who are in need of volunteers. LSSND then recruits volunteers ages 55 and older to give their time and experience to make the lives of others better and to help communities become more resilient.

– By Micayla Bitz

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