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Tulsa Transit partners with Meals on Wheels of Metro Tulsa to meet growing pandemic-related demand

Corey Jones, Tulsa World

Tulsa Transit is shifting multiple paratransit vehicles into operation as a delivery service for Meals on Wheels of Metro Tulsa during the COVID-19 crisis, the agency announced Tuesday.

First Transit, the agency’s lift service operator, will run four-hour shifts Monday through Friday to deliver meals. Also, Tulsa Transit’s call center will help with telephone wellness checks to ensure the well-being of Meals on Wheels clients without coming into close personal contact.

Photo by MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World

“First Transit is excited to partner with Meals on Wheels and assist with the amazing service they provide each day,” Scott Marr, First Transit general manager, said in a statement. COVID-19 forced Meals on Wheels to upend its traditional model, and the nonprofit has since tripled its clientele to try to meet needs exposed or exacerbated by the pandemic. The largest extension of its services is aiding the city’s Hispanic population by delivering meals to churches near its offices on the east side of Tulsa. Meals on Wheels projects that it could reach 5,000 clients and deliver between 500,000 and 600,000 meals in a year. The average service in a year before the novel coronavirus was 1,864 individuals and 296,000 meals.

Bob Beard, vice president of community relations and development, said the partnership is a “game-changer” for efficiency with its expanded footprint.

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