PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — For more than 6 years, Dave Groom has been loading up his car with nutritious meals. These days it’s once a week to visit his regulars receiving Meals On Wheels.

Meal delivery changed during the pandemic. The trips are now less frequent but they bring more food.

Dave Groom is a Meals on Wheels People volunteer who knows it’s much more than just delivering food, June 14, 2022 (KOIN)

“I know there’s a number of folks that don’t get any other visitors during the week and that makes me kind of sad,” Groom told KOIN 6 News. “I feel responsible for being there for them. I make good friends with them. It’s always great to see them.”

It’s a welcome visit and a helping hand for seniors like Bill, a pianist who’s lived in Portland for more than 25 years. Now he’s homebound and always eager to share a new book recommendation or chat sports when Groom visits.

“It’s always great to have Dave come by,” Bill said. “Dave and I have a lot of things in common. We talk about mysteries, about musicals, baseball.”

These visits are more than just food delivery. It’s a casual welfare check. Groom said he looks “just to make sure everything is where it should be.”

“The food delivery is important,” he said. “They all need it but the connection is also important.”

KOIN Coverage: Waterfront Blues Festival

For Cheryl, not having to leave the house as often means staying safe and having the support to live independently.

“It’s a good program. You get outside contact and it helps with your meals,” Cheryl said. “It’s been a godsend during COVID.”

Frozen meals that warm the heart and tell older neighbors people are looking out for them.

“This is food and companionship,” Groom said. “It doesn’t get more important than that in my book.”

How you can help

The Waterfront Blues Festival benefits Meals on Wheels People. They’re always looking for volunteers. If you don’t have time to regularly deliver meals, you can fill in or help pack meals at the kitchen.

Meals on Wheels People also started a friendly chat program during the pandemic to connect people over the phone and give seniors some safe human connection.

Support Meals on Wheels at Blues Fest. There will be a booth set up with raffle tickets and great prizes.