Friendly Kitchen volunteers were hard at work Wednesday morning cooking up a batch of chicken tikka masala for that day and an extra large portion of split pea soup for Thursday.

Two hundred Roseburg seniors depend on these volunteers for their daily meals.

Coronavirus notwithstanding, they were going to receive them.

The Friendly Kitchen ordinarily operates a dining site on Harvard Avenue in Roseburg, and the Roseburg area Meals on Wheels program.

The pandemic, which puts seniors at the highest risk, has forced the Friendly Kitchen to get creative about how it puts together and delivers those meals, though.

Director Inger Boyd-Miller said they’re now delivering meals Monday, Wednesday and Friday rather than every weekday. An extra meal for Tuesday is delivered Monday, and an extra meal for Thursday is delivered Wednesday.

The dine-in option is closed, but meals can be picked up at a table at the front door on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Participants sign in, write down the number of meals they need, and the meals are bagged and set on the table by volunteers.

“It’s a bit of a process, but we do want to make sure folks are getting the service they need,” Boyd-Miller said.

They’ve made a few other adaptations too. Soup and stew portions are larger, and Meals on Wheels is leaving meals in insulated containers on clients’ doorsteps.

Friendly Kitchen provides about 5,000 meals a month to Roseburg area seniors.

Boyd-Miller said many seniors helped by Friendly Kitchen are isolated already, and the coronavirus pandemic has made that worse.

Ordinarily Meals on Wheels drivers visit with each meal recipient. Now, they’re conducting welfare checks by knocking on the door, announcing themselves and waiting for a response.

“We prefer the face-to-face contact, but we really can’t do that right now,” she said.

For the most part, the seniors have been understanding. They want to do what’s necessary to stay safe, she said.

Most of the volunteers who cook the food and drive it to the clients are senior citizens themselves, Boyd-Miller said. Friendly Kitchen has about 50 volunteers working in the kitchen and 30 drivers. They are in need of more drivers.

Boyd-Miller said she also encourages younger people to check in on elderly neighbors to see if they need assistance. They can either offer to bring them shelf stable groceries themselves, or sign them up for meal service by calling the Friendly Kitchen phone number.

Anyone wanting to volunteer can contact the Friendly Kitchen at 541-673-5929

Reporter Carisa Cegavske can be reached at ccegavske@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4213.

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Senior Reporter

Carisa Cegavske is the senior reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at ccegavske@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4213. Follow her on Twitter @carisa_cegavske

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