LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Nearly 500 seniors who are self-isolating amid the COVID-19 outbreak received a week's worth of frozen meals for free Tuesday, what the city calls a "successful first day" of Louisville's expanded Meals on Wheels program.

The expanded program, which was announced last Friday, provides one box of five meals to people of ages 60 and older, once a week, until April 3. It's part of a three-week push to curb the spread of the coronavirus in Metro Louisville.

Metro government is paying Masterson's Catering $400,000 to prepare the meals, according to Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer's office. The Office of Resilience & Community Services expects to distribute 26,000 meals over the three-week time period.

Meals are available on a first-come, first-served basis from 10 a.m. until noon. They are limited to one box of five meals, per person, each week.

The pickup locations are listed below (note that two of the locations are changing from what was previously announced):

Mondays: New site being reviewed and will be announced once confirmed.

Tuesdays: Beechmont Community Center (205 Wellington Avenue, 40214)

Wednesdays: Sun Valley Community Center (6505 Bethany Lane, 40272) and East Government Center (200 Juneau Drive, 40243)

Thursdays: Slaughter Elementary School (3805 Fern Valley Rd., Louisville, 40219)

Fridays: Arthur S Kling Center (219 W. Ormsby Ave., 40203)

Below are the criteria for anyone wishing to pick up a box. Participants must:

  • Be a resident of Jefferson County, Kentucky.
  • Provide proof that they are of age 60 or older.
  • Stay in their cars for meal pickup, rather than parking their vehicles and walking to the pickup site.

It was almost a traffic jam at the Sun Valley Community Center Wednesday morning as seniors pulled up to pick up their meals. 

"We want to feed as many of our older adults as possible," said Sarah Teeters, coordinator of the Metro Louisville Office for Aging and Disabled Citizens.

She said the expanded Meals on Wheels program was "really in response to the state of our country right now."

Many of the seniors there Wednesday would normally be fed at a local senior center, but Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear ordered them closed because of COVID-19.

"We wanted to make sure we could still get them the proper nutrients they needed in a very safe and social-distancing way," Teeters said.

Teeters says seniors are not only the demographic most at risk for contracting the coronavirus. 

"They are also our most vulnerable for food isolation, for meal insufficiency, for poor nutrition," she said. 

Those who are able to purchase their own groceries say they've been frustrated.

"It's good because you can't get it in the grocery store now," said one man. "If you want something, you have to go five times to get it."

Teeters says hand sanitizers and gloves are available for workers to use to protect themselves, and the food is being distributed in a way that keeps seniors safe from possible exposure to the virus.

"We are asking that our older adults do not get out of the car," Teeters said. "We're able to just put them into the car so we can make it very quick and not prolong the exposure."

For their part, seniors Wednesday were quick to express their gratitude for the much-needed victuals.

"The food? wonderful!" said one woman. "This helps me tremendously."

"It means that I can eat for another week, and I won't have to go hungry!" said another woman.

Seniors who are homebound who regularly receive Meals on Wheels delivery will now get one box of five meals in one delivery.

For more information, residents are asked to call 502-574-5223.

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