The New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station 2020 Annual Report spotlights the many stories of outreach and resilience during COVID-19. To read more, see the NJAES 2020 Annual Report.
The Union County Congregate Nutrition Program provides senior residents with meals at 25 community sites, offering good nutrition and opportunities for socialization. COVID-19 restrictions necessitated shifting to home-delivery for the program. Kathleen Malkiewicz, senior meals project program coordinator with the Union County Division on Aging, accomplished the move while addressing multiple challenges, including food procurement, preparation, and delivery, limited kitchen volunteers, lack of staff support due to fear of the pandemic, and working under daily new rules from the Governor’s office.
Family and Community Health Sciences (FCHS) educator Karen Ensle facilitated the 2020 grant that funded the senior meals program coordinator position and enabled ongoing collaboration with the Union County Division on Aging. As the program coordinator, Malkiewicz worked seamlessly with the director of aging and the Union County Meals-on-Wheels central kitchen to move the 700 seniors from the community sites plus another 300 vulnerable seniors to “home-delivered” meals, increasing the total served to 1,000.
Ongoing COVID-19 restrictions meant that seniors in Union County continued to be fed at home through the remainder of 2020, a reality that impacted all USDA-funded nutrition feeding programs across the U.S. and will likely result in new policies and procedures being developed in 2021.