An Appetite to Serve! York Hospital’s Meal Delivery Program
When the pandemic arrived in southern Maine this March, York Hospital already had a robust meal delivery program in place. It started in 1999, in response to patient requests for assistance during recuperation from surgery and/or illness, and quickly expanded beyond York Hospital patients to include many senior community members, due to the high-quality, low-cost meals it provided. And, as the numbers for the past four years show, the appetite for these meals is still increasing. In fact, in the past five years the number of meals delivered has more than doubled, from 2,105 in 2016 to 4,480 in 2019.
But that’s not the whole story. As a result of the pandemic and seniors isolating at home, meal delivery orders have again increased more than 50% in 2020. “Often times over the past few months I’ve heard our seniors say, ‘If it wasn’t for York Hospital, I don’t know what I’d do.’ There is a lot of gratitude for this service we provide, now more than ever,” says Vicky Muscarello, who works on the dining and nutrition team answering daily calls and emails from seniors and preparing their meals for delivery. (Vicky is shown above preparing a meal delivery bag for a community member.)
Director of Dining Services Jorge Descart adds that many of the seniors who receive home meal deliveries also have compromised immune systems and pre-existing conditions. “They are afraid to go out because they don’t want to catch the virus. They have decided to stay sheltering in place at home. They feel safe having our delivery drivers leave meals just outside their doors, and we feel good knowing they are getting nutritious meals to help keep them healthy.”
April Roberts, York Hospital’s Administrative Dietary Coordinator shares, smiling, that it isn’t ONLY healthy foods that people want. Every morning York Hospital baker Sarah Gooch makes homemade cookies, cakes, brownies and assorted sweet treats when she arrives to work at 3 a.m. April adds, “I help pack the lunches for the volunteer drivers to deliver starting at 10:30 a.m. each weekday. It warms my heart to know that many of the desserts we prepare in the morning are requested by our seniors and add a bright spot to their day after they enjoy their lunch or dinner.”
April continues, “You can really see the impact of the pandemic when you look at the numbers. We have delivered at least 50% more meals to seniors compared to the same period in 2019. Many of our seniors opted not to travel this summer to see friends and family. There were more people staying safe at home, and our data reflects that.”
Director of Volunteer Services Kate Ford helps recruit volunteer meal delivery drivers. She notes that a generous donation was a key ingredient in the hospital’s ability to cater to the community’s growing needs in a timely manner, saying: “We are grateful to the John T. Gorman Foundation for awarding a Direct Services Grant to help expand our ability to deliver meals to seniors sheltering at home due to the continued threat of COVID-19 in our communities. Since March, we have had the privilege of serving an average of 58% more seniors than last year. It would not have been possible without this grant, as these are challenging and unprecedented times for all.”
If you wish to make a donation to York Hospital’s COVID-19 Caring for All Fund, please visit the donation page on our website or call Community Relations at (207) 351-2385.