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Meals on Wheels offering grab-and-go sites, stepping up to feed seniors amid virus outbreak

Massachusetts’s largest Meals on Wheels program is serving food for older adults at select sites from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

A nutrition specialist prepares a "Meals on Wheels" delivery. John Moore / Getty Images, File

With more seniors homebound, attempting to avoid the spread of the coronavirus, there’s been an uptick in the need for delivered meals.

To meet the increasing demands, the group that runs Massachusetts’s largest Meals on Wheels program, Ethos, has taken initiative, bringing on more volunteers and setting up “grab-and-go” sites across Boston for older adults who formerly relied on the free meals getting delivered to churches or senior centers that are now temporary closed.

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The Boston Globe reports that Ethos generally delivered around 8,000 packaged meals a day, directly to homes, shelters, community cafes at churches, and senior centers. But with the virus, few sites are left open.

“Many of the venues that host our cafes have decided to close their facilities or, cancel or curtail activities,” Ethos officials said in a statement. “Others have been requested closed to by order of the state.”

Yet they’ve converted a handful of local cafes into grab-and-go stations for older adults to pick up a meal and eat it where they wish.

Most community cafes are open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and meals are usually available for pick up from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., the statement reads.

Valerie Frias, Ethos’s CEO, told the Globe that the Jamaica Plain-based nonprofit is doing everything it can to sustain their services.

“It’s a very vulnerable population,” Frias told the paper, noting that many elderly people are afraid to go outside.

“We’re going full-tilt, more than full-tilt,” she said. “We’re going to continue to serve the elderly population.”

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