A line of cars steered by local senior citizens winds through the parking lot of the Champaign County Library around lunch time every Friday.
The big attraction is free “Grab and Go Senior Meals,” which are being offered to everyone 60 and older, regardless of income, by LifeCare Alliance, the Meals-on-Wheels provider for Champaign County.
“The program is geared as an alternative to our typical five congregate meal program sites that operate in the county,” said Leah Bunck, assistant director of nutrition programs. “Due to COVID-19, those have been shut down since March, so this allows seniors to receive nutritious meals, stay safe and get a little socialization. Since it follows all our other nutrition program guidelines, we are able to serve anyone 60 years and over at no cost to the consumer. We intend to continue this program in some format until we can safely open our congregate sites again. Donations are always welcome to support the program.”
The meals are being provided every Friday now through October from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. in the Champaign County Library parking lot at 1060 Scioto St. Participants enter through the southeast entrance, by the car dealership. They are asked to stay in their vehicles where lunch is passed from LifeCare Alliance volunteers through the vehicle windows. All participants 60 years and receive two meals to go.
The meals are funded through a variety of sources, but primarily by CARES Act funds through the Area Agency on Aging. LifeCare officials predict Older American Act funds will assist with the effort in the near future.
LifeCare Alliance requires all to wear a mask for service. While there is no charge for the meals, donations are accepted. Those who have not received LifeCare Alliance services before are asked to complete a one-time application onsite.
“Basic demographic information is collected on the participants that is reported back to the Ohio Department on Aging,” Bunck said. “Many consumers are returning from getting meals with us before, but we are very excited to see new people.”
LifeCare Alliance is a United Way affiliated agency. It relies on fundraising, donations and volunteerism to provide its services locally. For more information about how to participate, log on to https://www.lifecarealliance.org
In the coming weeks and months LifeCare Alliance intends to partner with more local restaurants and partners to expand the reach of the program. Those meals will also be no cost for the senior citizens, and participating partners will be reimbursed for the meals. Interested consumers or partners can call Seth Van Valkenburg at 614-437-2850.