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Another Voice: Meals on Wheels was hit hard by November storm

By Tara A. Ellis

The winter storm that hit Western New York back in November was unprecedented in its reach and its impact on our program. Never before has Meals on Wheels for WNY been so severely impacted by a storm as it was this November.

The travel bans and unsafe conditions made it impossible for us to get to our commissary – which is located in the heart of South Buffalo – during the first part of the storm.

Once we did open to complete emergency service and weekend deliveries, the storm cleanup effort and continued hazardous travel conditions made it challenging for us to deliver those emergency meals in many areas of our footprint.

We could not have made it through this difficult storm and successfully served those with a critical need without the tremendous support of the Erie County Executive’s Office, the City of Buffalo Mayor’s Office, the Mayor’s Citizen Preparedness Team, the Erie County Sheriff’s Office, the Buffalo Police Department’s SWAT team, the National Guard and the Community Action Organization, to say nothing of tireless hours put in by our staff and our food vendor, Bateman Senior Meals.

During the storm, Meals on Wheels used the majority of our “blizzard boxes” – boxes of shelf-stable foods that are delivered to vulnerable clients at the beginning of winter in the event of program closures.

We also prepared extra four-meal and six-meal units during the peak of the emergency for delivery to our homebound clients and other vulnerable snowbound neighbors throughout the county.

Now that the storm is passed, we need to restock and supply our commissary and our emergency supplies. The community’s continued support is necessary and appreciated.

We are currently accepting donations at our website – www.mealsonwheelswny.org – and at 100 James E. Casey Drive, Buffalo, NY 14206. We also need to repair our loading dock, which was severely damaged by the storm.

All told, the financial impact on Meals on Wheels related to the storm will be approximately $30,000 – or the equivalent of almost 5,500 meals and ancillary services.

Your support of our work and efforts to check on your neighbors is greatly appreciated Thank you for helping Meals on Wheels serve the most vulnerable members of our community.

Tara A. Ellis is president and CEO of Meals on Wheels for WNY.