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Family Services Sees Huge Increase in Meals Served to Seniors

WHEELING — The COVID-19 pandemic for months has posed a threat to the health and wellbeing of local residents — especially those who are most vulnerable, including senior citizens.

For many seniors living at home, the safest way to avoid the virus is to continue sheltering in place as much as possible. However, this also has presented challenges in terms of keeping life’s basic necessities within reach.

Paula Calvert, CEO of Family Services-Upper Ohio Valley, said this year the non-profit agency has seen a huge jump in the amount of meals being served to local seniors during the pandemic.

“Last year in 2019, our total meals through the nutrition program was 74,058,” Calvert said. ” This year along from February to July, we have served 50,300 meals. So as you can tell, due to COVID-19, our meals have significantly increased.”

Due to this increase in the need to serve meals, Calvert last week requested that the city of Wheeling consider providing Family Services with additional funding through the federal Community Development Block Grant program.

A public hearing was held before Wheeling City Council on the five-year consolidated plan for fiscal years 2020-24, its annual action plan for fiscal year 2020 and analysis of impediments to fair housing choice in the city of Wheeling for fiscal year 2020. During this public hearing, Calvert requested additional CDBG funding to help meet the needs of Family Services increase in use of its nutrition programs.

“I’m requesting funding to supply our program with much needed Oliver trays,” she said. “Due to the recent COVID activities, the need for making sure that our seniors are self quarantining and staying safe as much as possible has become more of an issue in our area. The reason why we are asking for these trays is that we provide seniors in our area a hot meal, plus two frozen meals.”

This increase in meals helps keep seniors in need with access to nutrition without having to leave their homes during the pandemic, Calvert noted.

“I’m just requesting that CDBG funds be issued to Family Services for those purposes, and I thank you so much for your support,” Calvert told members of Wheeling City Council.

Each year, the city of Wheeling distributes CDBG funding to various public service agencies including city agencies as well as a percentage of outside agencies that are not operated by the city. Several agencies ranging from Catholic Charities to the YMCA and the Soup Kitchen of the Greater Wheeling Area receive allocations. Family Services receives $5,000 as part of the city’s regular annual CDBG funding allocation.

City Manager Robert Herron explained there is a fixed pool of CDBG money available, and if the city were to increase its allocation for one outside agency, its allocation for another local service agency would have to be reduced.

Other avenues of securing CDBG funding may still be open, however.

City officials had previously announced that Wheeling had received additional CDBG funds this year through the federal CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act allocations from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Herron indicated that these additional CDBG funds are being allocated through the city’s Department of Economic and Community Development.

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