By the CUJ
A team of six people have changed the way they provide nutritious meals to tribal elders during the COVID-10 pandemic.
Usually hot meals are delivered each weekday.
However, to protect elders, one of the most at-risk populations, staff have decreased food delivery to twice per week during the coronavirus outbreak.
To make up the difference, they deliver two hot meals on Tuesdays and Thursdays, along with a frozen meal on Tuesdays and two frozen meals on Thursdays.
Clifford Stanger is the manager of the Nixyaawii Senior Center, where the meals are cooked and prepared in freezable and microwave-safe containers. He said the process continues to evolve and the Senior Center meals staff is committed to getting meals out.
“If our numbers keep going up we will have to come up with a different plan, but for the moment I think we are doing okay,” he said. “We’ll continue to do meal delivery because the elders are more at risk to contract the virus.”
The cooks work four days a week and the delivery driver works two days a week, according to Carrie Sampson-Samuels, community wellness director at Yellowhawk Tribal Health Center.
Meal van driver Michael Ray Johnson runs his usual route where he delivers 125 meals per week.
Now that the number has climbed to 520 meals per week for 104 elders, a second route has been added. Stanger and Xochitl Roman, prep cook/dishwasher at the Senior Center, are in charge of the second route.
“Since our numbers have increased, there has been a couple people who jokingly say, ‘Why you late today? I’ve been waiting for you,’” Stanger said.
Victoria Baker, assistant cook, and Melva Lopez, head cook, run the kitchen and ensure elders get their food each day.