Health problems, cognitive decline, isolation and mobility issues become more common with aging and require older adults seeking to live independently to pursue a wide range of solutions.
One of the best of these solutions in Bandera County is the Silver Sage Meals on Wheels program, in conjunction with the Silver Sage Food Pantry and monthly food distributions.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, Meals on Wheels has experienced exponential growth.
A portion of this growth can be attributed to the change from congregate, in-house dining to home-delivered meals for many clients.
Most of the growth, however, is from new clients, so many Bandera County elderly have become more isolated and afraid to be out shopping during this unprecedented time.
To review the numbers, we will compare pre-COVID numbers from February to current numbers from August.
The number of congregate meals in February was 1,249 meals, which were consumed in our dining room.
The number of meals that were picked up curbside in August was 961.
Several seniors that used to dine in daily have now moved to home-delivered meals and those that are able drive by and pick up their meals.
The number of home-delivered Meals in February was 2,868.
The number of home-delivered meals in August was 8,468 - a 200 percent increase.
The number of clients visiting our food pantry in February was 46. The number for August was 82.
An additional 1,545 people were served through our partnership with the San Antonio Food Bank at the monthly Mansfield Park Food Distribution.
This drastic increase in services at the Silver Sage has affected our need for volunteers and our budget in unimaginable ways.
The Meals on Wheels staff has had to create and find volunteers for four new routes to ensure timely delivery of hot meals to seniors.
The Silver Sage now has 14 routes that leave every morning and deliver meals from Bandera to Pipe Creek, Medina, Tarpley, Utopia, Vanderpool, Lakehills, Lake Medina Shores, county line to county line and all points in between.
The Financial Department staff has been writing grants and seeking donations as well as trying to save every penny everywhere possible to cover all these additional expenses.
These expenses include more food, more packaging, more gas and maintenance for delivery vehicles and all the COVID-related expenses such as masks, sanitizer, disinfectants and other PPE.
The Silver Sage is fortunate to be a part of such an amazing community that continues to support all the efforts to ensure the safety and wellbeing of its most vulnerable citizens.
Just a reminder, the next Mansfield Park food distribution dates are Oct. 28, Nov. 23 and Dec. 21.
If you or someone you know needs assistance, please call the Silver Sage at 830-796-4969.
If you wish to donate, you can now find a donate button on the website at www.silversage.org.
Art Crawford is the CEO at Silver Sage center.