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Meals on Wheels Metro Tulsa triples its clientele by adding Hispanic outreach amid COVID-19 pandemic

Corey Jones, Tulsa World

Driven by COVID-19 needs, Meals on Wheels Metro Tulsa has upended its longstanding model and tripled its clientele in the month since Tulsa County confirmed its first case of the disease.

The sharp rise isn’t strictly tied to vulnerable seniors who are sheltering in place. The nonprofit’s footprint is expanding during a $450,000 effort to capture other gaps caused or exposed by the pandemic.

Calvin Moore, president and CEO, said families and individuals quarantined by positive coronavirus tests and first responders adversely affected by the disease now are on regular routes. And Saturday marked the first day for Meals on Wheels to drop off bulk deliveries to churches near its east Tulsa offices to aid the city’s Hispanic population.

Photo by Ian Maule

“We’re finding that many immigrant families are really being hit hard by this issue,” Moore said. “Immigrant families, although they pay taxes and contribute tremendously to our community, are not necessarily benefiting from even the stimulus package that we’ve seen come to light. The crisis is really laying bare so many of those structural inequalities in our system.” There are to be 1,100 emergency frozen meals and 500 shelf-stable meals distributed Saturday at Piedra Angular Church. Another 1,000 emergency meals are set for delivery Tuesday at Temple Cristiano Cordero De Dios. Moore said he hopes to expand the deliveries to six congregations on a weekly basis.

Moore said many of the immigrant families also are caring for aging parents or grandparents at home. This extended outreach will represent about 15% of the service profile, he said. Normal service constitutes 1,864 individuals and a cumulative 296,000 meals in a given year. Moore said projections for 2020 indicate clients could reach 5,000 and meals total 500,000 to 600,000, or seven meals each up to 3,000 clients in a week.

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