The Daily Review/Geoff Stoute
St. Mary Parish Council on Aging has continued delivery of meals to homebound residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. Above are employees at the Morgan City site, from left, Deidre Boyd, Lisa Daigle, Tanya St. Romain, Charlette Bartholomew and Henry Brown.
Senior meals keep coming during COVID-19
COVID-19 may have shut down or limited many different aspects of society, but one constant has been the St. Mary Council on Aging’s delivery of meals to home-bound residents.
The council on aging’s Executive Director, Beverly Domengeaux, said her clients are those who are age 60 and older who can’t drive or they can’t cook for themselves and have no one in their house that can do so for them.
She said many of her clients are over age 70.
Through the end of the agency’s last fiscal year, which ended June 30, Domengeaux said the agency served more than 60,000 meals, which is about double what they usually serve. That figure includes hot meals five days a week and shelf-food, which is two days’ worth of breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.
“It’s something that they can fix for themselves,” Domengeaux said of the shelf-food.
While COVID-19 has not stopped the agency, it has changed the way they deliver the meals. Now, meals are provided through contactless delivery, while council on aging employees are equipped with personal protection equipment.
“It’s been a little bit time consuming,” Domengeaux said. “Of course, it’s been costly on us because we had to keep masks and gloves and all of the equipment and to make sure that they are safe.”
The residents have been provided personal protection equipment as well as hand sanitizer, too.
The demand for meals also has increased.
“People have a need right now, and I have to tell you, I’ve got the longest waiting list that I’ve ever had,” Domengeaux said.
However, before services are provided, paperwork must be completed and approved.
Through the pandemic, Domengeaux said she has had just two employees who have had to stop working until they received their COVID-19 test results and were cleared to return to work.
“We have not had one instance of any of our seniors that have stayed at home since March 18 that have tested positive or have been exposed to the disease, and most of them have underlying conditions,” she said.
While the agency delivers to 282 residents across St. Mary Parish, there are some areas of the parish that Domengeaux said she is unable to deliver to right now due to a lack of drivers. It’s something she will be working on once the pandemic is over.
The meals, which come from a Lafayette firm, are repackaged and delivered from the agency’s Morgan City, Patterson or Franklin distribution sites.
The Council on Aging receives its funding from the state and federal governments as well as the parish, municipalities, the United Way, the H&B Young Foundation and other foundations.
“Wherever I can beg, and they’ll listen to me,” Domengeaux said.
In addition to meals, among the other ways the council assists clients is by picking up pharmacy and grocery orders, taking them shopping if they have the proper personal protection equipment, transporting them to doctor’s appointments and providing them things that they enjoy that they can do at home such as puzzles and coloring books.
“We’re a hand to hold, an ear to listen and a heart that cares,” Domengeaux said.