November 17, 2020
Thanksgiving Curbside 2020
by: Pocatello Senior Activity Center Volunteer Andy Guerra
A traditional Thanksgiving dinner will be distributed curbside to Seniors 60 years plus, Wednesday, November 25, 2020, at the Pocatello Senior Activity Center from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
The meals will be available behind the Center’s kitchen door in the area that the Center shares with the Department of Labor at 430 N. 5th Avenue in Pocatello. Patrons can drive by, walk, or bicycle for a boxed lunch.
All seniors can reserve a meal by calling the Center at 208-233-1212. “We have 160-170 regular patrons and the Center needs to know the count in order to prepare enough meals,” said the Senior Activity Center Director Anita Valladolid.
All seniors who receive a meal must have a membership on file with the Center, and if not, they will be given a document that takes four minutes to complete and can be returned on December 1st. They will still be given a meal that day by giving a worker their name, address, phone, birthday and veteran status.
This year the Whitworth family will not be having the annual Thanksgiving and Christmas day meals due to the COVID-19 virus pandemic.
The Senior Activity Center expects new seniors and is reaching out to the community for frozen turkeys, pies, vegetables and rolls. The donated items can be dropped off between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., Tuesday thru Friday, or a worker can pick up the food items before November 18th.
The Activity Center has been offering curbside meals since March 24, 2020, when COVID-19 closed the Center for all activities including the indoor lunch meal.
There is no cost for the meals but donations are accepted and no senior “gets turned away,” commented Valladolid.
“March 24, 2020, we started with 50 meals distributed and increased to 160 plus daily Tuesday thru Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. by the middle of April,” stated Marty Riedle, Curbside Manager.
Riedle continued that the curbside program has attracted over 201 new senior members and, “We are seeing more and more Hispanics, Native Americans and the homeless picking up a meal.”
Valladolid declared, “October 28, 2020, we distributed 187 meals and the daily curbside meals numbers are growing and over 30 veterans having been picking up a meal daily since May, 2020.”
The Center began tracking veteran meal data in April and now all statewide Senior Center memberships have a veteran category that can be marked, explained Riedle, whose husband is a Viet Nam era veteran.
The Center normally served 1,000 indoor meals monthly for years, but once the curbside program started “we started to average 1,424 meals monthly and this month the number is 3,045 meals,” revealed Valladolid.
Riedle disclosed that 16,415 boxed curbside meals from March 24th to October 30th have been distributed and below is a statistical breakdown:
- 2,006 are seniors over the age of 85
- 14,409 are over 60 plus
- 3,040 veterans are counted in the above figures
- 2 seniors turned 100 years of age last month
- 6 seniors are 95 plus years old
- 10 seniors are driven to the curbside location by their Home Care Provider
- 40 seniors have family or volunteers deliver their meals
- 5% are minority and 1% are homeless
The meals are provided via a national, countrywide, federally funded senior nutrition grant that is locally administered for the Center by South Eastern Council of Government’s Nutrition Manager, Mike Hirshi.
Idaho Governor Little has allowed all 98 Statewide Senior Centers the option of curbside meals due to the virus pandemic until 7/2021, and the Senior Pocatello Activity Center Board established COVID-19 safety protocols for eight volunteers and six part-time employees to provide meal curbside services.
Local businesses, private donors and corporate grants have contributed to keeping the curbside program alive, especially when the price of food has skyrocketed, “like meat products,” says Valladolid, and she thanks, “the Pocatello and Chubbuck community for their support.”