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No delivery of warm meals in Idaho Falls

The Idaho Falls Meals on Wheels experienced a freeze Tuesday, the snow stopped their drivers from delivering hot meals to seniors.

Monday through Friday, the Senior Center staff prepare daily 200 hot meals and deliver them to local seniors.

Valisa Say, executive director for the Idaho Falls Senior Center, explained how their operations work.

“We deliver an additional 250 frozen meals on weekends. Our biggest program is our ‘Meals on Wheels’ program; we prepare 1,200 meals a week,” Say said.

A vital part of the program is the part-time drivers that they employ to hand deliver each meal. However, Tuesday’s snowfall forced the program director to cancel all deliveries; she informed her staff that they had the day off due to bad road conditions.

“The snow is really bad and I have to keep my drivers safe. We had a hard time getting work and pulling out,” Say said.

Say and another employee came to the senior center to make calls to those who were expecting their warm meal.

“We called our participants, called the T.V. stations, radio and put it on Facebook social media. We also called and talked to all 200 people to let them know we won’t be able to deliver,” Say said.

Debbie Hamilton, Idaho Falls Senior Center kitchen supervisor, said they prepare for events like this ahead of time.

“What we do is have the seniors we deliver to eat their emergency meal which we hand out to them ahead of time, in case we have days like this and we call everyone to use their emergency meal. We are planning to deliver the rest of the week so we are busy preparing meals for Wednesday,” Hamilton said.

Seniors are also given donated canned goods incase they are still hungry.

Hamilton said the drive was difficult.

“I got stuck pulling out of my driveway. So I had to get the shovel out and get that snow out of the way,” Hamilton said.

Say said the seniors were understanding of the situation.

“Their driver comes every day, so they look at them as if they were friends. They don’t want the driver to get in an accident or hurt themselves.”

In the past, drivers have gotten stuck in the snow and had to be towed out Say said.

This is the second time in the month of January that the Meals on Wheels program could not deliver because of weather and road conditions being to severe.

“I’ve been a director for seven years and lived here for 13 years. We haven’t had to close down the Senior Center due to snow in five years,” Say said.

The Idaho Falls soup kitchen is also closed because of severe weather conditions.

Kaaren Parsons, director of the soup kitchen, said the road conditions for volunteers and patrons were too dangerous.

“Wasn’t safe to drive. However, we expect to be back in operations Wednesday,” Parsons said.

Idaho Falls Community Food Basket is also closed Tuesday.

According to Say, daily operations will continue as normal, with the facility open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. However, the senior center will remain closed Tuesday.

Say does advise for local residents to check on their elderly neighbors to make sure they are OK.

“A lot of the times, seniors come to the center to warm up because it’s too expensive to run their heaters. So hypothermia is a major concern. So if you see your neighbor who is elderly just say hello and ask if they need anything,” Say said.

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