Waterbury Meals on Wheels stretched during pandemic, say more federal dollars needed to continue filling need in community

New Haven

WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — Demand for their services is high. For the folks at New Opportunities, Inc. who run Waterbury’s Meals on Wheels program, it’s been a stressful time.

“Not only do we provide Meals on Wheels, but we also offer meals at nutrition sites at senior centers and COVID has shut down those senior centers so all those seniors who were receiving meals at those sites are now in need of Meals on Wheels,” said Lisa Labonte, Senior Nutrition Services Director for New Opportunities, Inc.

Demand is up almost 20 percent. Meals On Wheels now delivers food to 900 people a day in Waterbury. Most of them are seniors who cannot get out of their homes and get food themselves because of issues like failing health, lack of transportation, or COVID concerns.

One of those people is Paula Dragon.

“I’m kind of homebound a little bit so it really means a lot when he comes,” Paula said.

The “he” she’s referring to is Jim, a driver for Meals on Wheels. Jim delivers food to Paula every day. Tuesday it was Hawaiian chicken, fruit, juice, and milk.

“My job is to help these people as much as I can,” Jim said. “Bring them their meals.”

New Opportunities, Inc. gets state and federal funding to keep the program going. They’re expecting more dollars from the government to buy the food and replace some of the vehicles they use in order to keep their drivers safe on the road delivering the meals to those who need them. They deliver twice a day.

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