Meals on Wheels of College Park celebrates one year in new home
By: Taneen Momeni
After 45 years in the city, Meals on Wheels of College Park relocated to neighboring Riverdale Park; April marks its one-year anniversary at the new location. Increasing needs in the community prompted the organization’s move to a bigger home.
The nonprofit mainly supports senior citizens by providing services, including meals and safety checks, that help them stay comfortably and securely at home. During the pandemic, the need for these services has gone up at an unprecedented rate.
“Prior to the pandemic, we were serving approximately 45 people in the area each day. Once the pandemic became rampant, we quickly soared to 200 clients,” Lisa Ealley, chairman of the organization, wrote in an email. “The facility we were using did not have the storage capacity to serve our needs. We were sad to leave our home for 45 years, but in order to maintain costs and serve the increased clientele, we had to seek a new space.”
According to Ealley, the new and bigger space is serving the organization well. The larger space offers more storage and expanded room for preparing and packing meals, and outside the building there’s more than enough parking for Meals on Wheels volunteers who work in the kitchen, pack food and load vehicles to make deliveries.
“The increased space was welcomed by all … We have ample room for our line assembly, which can span across the room in the morning, and the meals for each route sit comfortably on 15 tables, making it easy to pack and go. And importantly, it allows social distancing for the volunteers,” Ealley wrote.
Ealley pointed to other benefits of the new facility, too. “Lighting and air conditioning, heat, ventilation are up to date and functioning. The walk-in freezer is a dream.”
Even as Meals on Wheels of College Park is now located outside the city, their move hasn’t hampered their ability to deliver.
“Since we serve several communities, it is easier now to access Riverdale, Hyattsville and places in between that were further away before the move. There is more distance from where we are now to Beltsville and some areas of Greenbelt. We have not made any changes to our routing and continue to serve the same communities,” Ealley wrote.
The move has also had a few impacts on operations. According to Ealley, the organization lost a few regular donors who supplied food, but they recruited new organizations to sustain the program. Some volunteers have stepped back, “but many have come forth to help,” Ealley said.
As much as the organization appreciates their new home, Meals on Wheels does plan to return to College Park.
“College Park is on our certificate of incorporation, and it means a lot to us to be physically in that community,” Ealley wrote.
The organization is seeking contributions to support their return to College Park; you can donate by going to mealsonwheelsofcollegepark.org/donate. To volunteer, go to mealsonwheelsofcollegepark.org/volunteer/.