Ocean County officials announced Monday that the Meals on Wheels program will continue as the coronavirus pandemic continues to develop, but a number of local nutrition centers will shut down to prevent the virus from spreading.
“Seniors who receive home delivered meals from our program will continue to receive their meals,” said Ocean County Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari, who serves as Chairman of Senior Services. “There are also other seniors, who attend the nutritional sites that have been closed due to the coronavirus, that have been identified as home delivered meal clients and will now be receiving meals at home.”
Community Service Inc. (CSI) has closed all its congregate nutrition sites located in Toms River, Brick Township, Jackson Township, Lacey Township, Lakewood Township, Stafford Township, and Whiting. While CSI transportation services is suspended, and Chronic Disease and Diabetes workshops have been canceled until at least March 27, CSI outreach and nutrition staff will make daily reassurance and wellness calls to ensure the safety and well-being of congregate participants.
The Toms River Senior Center has closed its facility and suspended all programing. The staff will be onsite to take phone calls, answer questions and assist with whatever they can by phone until further notice. Drivers will be available for doctor appointments, food shopping and prescription pick-ups. Tax assistance will be available on Wednesdays, but clients are asked to not come until their scheduled appointments.
All Brick Township municipal offices and buildings will be closed to the public until further notice starting March 16 as well. All staff and offices will remain available by phone and email. Brick Township senior services will continue to provide bus transportation for food shopping and medical appointments for well visits. No home visits will be conducted until further notice, but wellness calls will be increased to include assistance participants in addition to our telephone reassurance clients.
Furthermore, Manchester Township offices will be closed to the public, but will remain open to answer phones from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and transportation will be canceled. Any new clients for Meals on Wheels will be screened over the phone. The policy is in effect for at least 45 days or until the Township changes policy.
The Lakewood Community Services Corporation has stock piled shelf-stable meals for delivery and is working with the state vendor who will ship the meals to Kosher Home Delivered Meal clients. While support and socialization groups have been suspended until further notice, LCSC staff will conduct outreach to clients over the phone.
“Our providers are making every effort to make sure the elderly, the frail and the vulnerable are not without a meal during this time,” Vicari said. “I appreciate all of these efforts. It’s together that we can get through this.”
Jewish Family and Children Service has canceled all groups along with at home and in office appointments. Staff will remain in contact with all clients in the mental health and caregiver mental health programs, as well as the Holocaust program, through telephone or video.
“This is a fluid situation and we are all putting plans in place out of an abundance of caution,” Vicari said. “Any senior having questions or concerns is encouraged to call the Ocean County Office of Senior Services. The staff is available to help especially during this time.”
To contact the Ocean County Office of Senior Services, call 732-929-2091 or 1-800-668-4899.