Meals on Wheels. Courtesy photo

Meals on Wheels San Diego County announced Tuesday that it expects to spend an additional $100,000 this month as a result of the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic that has so far infected more than 800,000 people worldwide and 600 in the region.

The unexpected costs come as the nonprofit saw an increase in demand. The charity provides meals to homebound seniors throughout the region. Its volunteers are often the only social interaction participants see on a daily basis, the nonprofit said.

In March alone, Meals on Wheels San Diego County said it saw more than 230 new senior clients sign up for its services. The demand continues to grow, said Aimee Brown, director of development for the nonprofit.

“We have had a sharp increase in seniors signing up,” Brown said. “We are adding up to 50 new clients per week and doing our best to keep up. There is now a waiting list in certain areas.”

Brown said the need for nonprofits like Meals on Wheels are more important now because many seniors are “scared and confused.”

“We are committed to delivering meals every day so we can also do a wellness check and to answer questions and provide information, but we will do so from afar,” Brown said. “We want our seniors to stay home and to eat healthy meals. Their mental wellbeing is top of mind for us right now so we are providing resources for our clients who need to talk to someone.”

In addition to monetary donations, Meals on Wheels is also in need of hand sanitizer and masks to keep hundreds of volunteers safe.

“Our goal is to continue services as usual for as long as we possibly can but we have developed contingency plans to deal with different scenarios should they arise,” Brown said. “We are so touched by the support San Diego has given us through volunteerism and donations. Continued meal delivery during this outbreak would simply not be possible without all of you.”

For more information about Meals on Wheels San Diego County or to make a donation, go to meals-on-wheels.org/.

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