HUDSON — The coronavirus pandemic has left some local seniors, who are among the most vulnerable, wondering how they will get their next meal.
Home Delivery Meals, or Meals On Wheels, will continue to operate as usual through the Columbia County Office of the Aging.
The meals are available to seniors over 60 who are homebound and unable to prepare their own meals. The program is experiencing higher-than-normal interest, so Hudson Commissioner of Aging Robyn Waters is asking people to check the county website for requirements as to who can take advantage of this program.
Each meal is designed to provide one-third of the USDA Recommended Daily Intake of nutrients, according to the county website. In addition, Meals on Wheels is delivering a week’s worth of shelf-stable items and frozen meals to have as backup.
Due to COVID-19 concerns, all Columbia County congregate meal sites are closed through the end of March. This includes Philmont Area Senior Center, Canaan Area Senior Community Center, Copake Area Senior Community Center, Greenport Community Center, Livingston Area Senior Community Center, Hudson Senior Community Center, Stuyvesant Area Senior Community Center and Valatie Senior Center.
City of Hudson seniors can call the Hudson Senior Center at 518-828-3200 between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday for support signing up for grocery delivery services, finding reliable information about the virus, or to get information about support services. All Hudson Senior Center activities, classes and programs have been suspended through the end of the month.
The Hudson Senior Center, 51 N. 5th St., has established a food bank for anyone in need of additional food items. Seniors are welcome to stop in and take what they need, or call the center to work out delivery with a volunteer. The center is looking for more drivers and volunteers to meet these needs.
“We’re looking to get more donations, and in the coming weeks we can deliver a care package to them which could include several canned items,” Waters said. The center also ordered necessities, such as toilet paper, to deliver to seniors who are practicing social distancing.
“Our biggest priority is making sure nobody is left on their own without their basic necessities,” Waters said.
Waters is working to compile a list of restaurants who are delivering and taking carry-out orders to provide to seniors who should not be leaving the house.
“We’re just trying to focus our efforts on people who aren’t able to get to the grocery store and don’t have the financial resources to get what they need delivered to them,” Waters said.
Rolling Grocer at 6 S. 2nd St. in Hudson is switching to pre-order groceries Thursday until further notice to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The store will take orders online, or with an order form that will be available outside the store, co-manager Audrey Berman said.
The store is working on a delivery serivce in collaboration with the Hudson Senior Center for those with special circumstances, Waters said.
All Price Chopper stores will be open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. starting Wednesday. Beginning Thursday, stores will open for seniors exclusively to shop from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. daily. Pickup and delivery windows are in high demand and may be delayed. Price Chopper has locations in Chatham, Catskill and Saugerties.
Dollar General, which has locations in Greenport, Valatie, West Coxsackie, Cairo, Palenville and Tannersville, is dedicating the first hour of each day to seniors, from 8 to 9 a.m.
“We appreciate our customers’ understanding of our decision and request they visit our stores later in the morning to allow at-risk populations the ability to purchase the items they need at affordable prices,” Dollar General CEO Todd Vasos said. “During these unprecedented times, Dollar General is diligently working to meet the ongoing needs of our customers and communities. We are proud to live our mission and provide customers with everyday low prices on the household essentials that are used and replenished most often.”
Hannaford stores in Kinderhook, Livingston and Cairo recommend reserving a pick-up time earlier than normal for their Hannaford To Go services, and have implemented purchase limits.
“We understand Hannaford To Go can be a comfort and a convenience for customers who are concerned about public spaces, or who are unable to get out during this time,” the company’s website said. “We are here to help.”
Walmart has shortened its hours across the country to 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Store pickup is available for orders made online.
Shop-Rite has implemented “drop at your door” grocery delivery services. While the store has shortened its hours from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. in order to restock and clean, it is hiring displaced workers during this high-volume period. Shop-Rite will have a senior hour from 6 to 7 a.m. daily starting Fri., March 20.
The Center for Diseas control reccomends seniors and people with chronic medical condition stock up on supplies, maintain distance from others, avoid non-essential travel, and stay home as much as possible during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Columbia County Sheriff’s office, in collaboration with the Office for the Aging, has a Senior Safety Net program to establish daily contact with homebound residents who have no regular outside social interaction. The program is designed around a daily well-being check by a phone call initiated at the sheriff’s office. If the individual does not answer the call as agreed upon, a deputy will be sent to the home to check on the individual.
The Hudson Police Department has an Elderly Call-In Program for residents of the city of Hudson. This program requires an individual to call into the Hudson Police Department at or before 10 a.m. daily. If the individual does not call in as agreed, a police officer will be sent to the home to check on the individual. This is especially useful to seniors who may not have family nearby or are homebound.
Columbia County Office for the Aging Administrator Kevin McDonald did not respond for comment at press time.
Abby Hoover is a reporter for Columbia-Greene Media. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or (518) 828-1616 x 2500.