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Note from a Meals on WHeels client

A note from a Meals-on-Wheels client illustrates the impact of LifeCare Alliance’s services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the past four months since COVID-19 has taken hold, LifeCare Alliance has had to significantly alter its services to meet the changing needs within the community.

During the week of March 1-7, the Agency’s Meals-on-Wheels program served 15,439 meals through our Meals-on-Wheels program. In contrast, during the week of June 21-27, the Agency served 24,537 meals. LifeCare Alliance has experienced as much as a 65 percent increase in meals served, resulting from heightened client demand in all of the five counties we serve: Franklin, Madison, Champaign, Logan, and Marion. At the height of the pandemic, the Agency added as many as 500 new clients a day!

Most meal service starts within 24 hours of receiving the contact or referral. LifeCare Alliance continues to receive numerous requests for services daily, and the Agency accepts all those who qualify.

LifeCare Alliance didn’t meet this demand on our own, however; we have been incredibly fortunate to receive emergency-response funding from a number of generous corporate and community partners.

We would like to sincerely thank the following funders who have so generously partnered with us to keep our doors open during this unprecedented time of COVID-19:

  • American Electric Power Foundation
  • Battelle
  • Big Lots Foundation
  • City of Columbus
  • City of Columbus Recreation & Parks CARES Fund
  • Columbia Gas/NiSource
  • The Columbus Foundation
  • Columbus Jewish Foundation
  • Crane Group
  • CVS Health Foundation
  • Delta Dental Foundation
  • Fishel Foundation
  • Franklin County Emergency Food and Shelter Program & CARES Funding
  • Logan County Emergency Food and Shelter Program
  • Madison County Emergency Food and Shelter Program & CARES Funding
  • First Merchants Bank
  • Franklin County Commissioners
  • Grange Insurance
  • Honda of America Foundation
  • Huntington Foundation
  • George J. Igel & Co. Inc.
  • IGS Foundation
  • Kokosing
  • The Legacy Fund
  • MAC AIDS Viva Glam Fund
  • Marion Rotary Foundation
  • Meals on Wheels America
  • Nationwide Foundation
  • Osteopathic Heritage Foundation
  • Quantum Health
  • United Way of Central Ohio
  • United Way of Logan County
  • United Way of North Central Ohio

And this is not even to mention the number of clients who contributed under difficult circumstances. LifeCare Alliance thanks all who helped continue the vision of the Agency’s founder, to “take care of those no one else pays any attention to.”

These funders have allowed the Agency to continue to serve the most vulnerable among us in a variety of ways. In addition to access to nourishing food, clients receive health and nutrition education and linkages to community resources and other LifeCare Alliance programs. Examples include the Senior PetCare program, which delivers pet food to the homes of clients, and the Beat the Heat Fan Campaign, which provides box fans during the hot summer months. The Agency advocates for client needs in the community and through relationships with local elected officials, promotes services through marketing and community outreach, and enriches community engagement by increasing and strengthening volunteer engagement.

With the emergency funds received, LifeCare Alliance also has been able to resume essential services that were initially closed as the pandemic ramped up.

  • The annual Beat the Heat Fan Campaign is underway, and the Agency is accepting fans to distribute weekly to clients in need.
  • The Central Ohio Diabetes Association will host summer camps virtually this year, from July 12-26.
  • The Columbus Cancer Clinic restarted regular mammograms as of May 18 and continues to be fully scheduled. The Groceries-to-Go Food Pantry, which serves CCC clients and their families, experienced a 53 percent increase in service numbers.
  • LA Catering has developed several “take out” options and new methods of delivering safe catering. Catering staff is taking reservations and can help with reopening needs.
  • Meals-for-Kids, a social enterprise, is now serving 22 daycare sites, representing more than 500 meals served per day. If all goes well, the Agency hopes to return to 60+ sites and more than 2,100 meals per day in the fall.
  • Project OpenHand-Columbus serves clients who are fighting HIV/AIDS. Many clients are self-isolating during this pandemic — some losing work because of it. COVID-19 has caused the emergency meal service to be needed at an increased rate. The number of clients served has doubled.
  • Senior PetCare continues to distribute food to almost 1,000 clients and provide veterinary care to pets in need.
  • Wellness has restarted several services, including staffing by registered nurses and registered dietitians at  community wellness centers across Franklin County.

In light of the increased client demand, the most remarkable achievement the Agency has accomplished is continuing to accept all clients in need, without a waiting list. This contrasts with a recent survey by Meals on Wheels America, which reports that 55 percent of programs nationally have increased their wait lists, with average increases of 26 percent. About 22 percent of programs’ wait lists have doubled, or more.

LifeCare Alliance is proud to be in this position, in large part because of the support of the partners mentioned above. LifeCare Alliance has received tremendous community support for emergency funding, but the Agency has not seen meal number increases slowing down. Clients will be the last group able to leave their homes as the pandemic subsides, so LifeCare Alliance anticipates this need will continue for the foreseeable future.

The Agency sincerely thanks the emergency funders for Nourishing the Human Spirit by going above and beyond to support LifeCare Alliance during this challenging time!

— By Crystal Kurzen, LifeCare Alliance