Inflation, COVID challenges, population growth drive demand for Meals on Wheels in Berkeley County

West Virginia

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (WDVM) — Population growth, inflation and public health concerns are all combining to drive demand for Meals on Wheels deliveries in Berkeley County ever higher, even as COVID takes its toll on this service.

Dianne Waldron, who runs Berkeley County Meals-on-Wheels, is the first to express appreciation for the support her program gets from the community and corporate partners.

“The United Way of the Eastern Panhandle supports us and we get grants through Proctor and Gamble, Ecolab and the Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation,” Waldron explains.

But she was at Berkeley County Council Thursday emphasizing the importance of her program. As Meals-on- Wheels volunteer, Linda Barnhart, explains, the food deliveries assure another important social services component.

“The people are checked on on a daily basis to make sure that they’re well and they’re safe,” says Barnhart.

“The demand for our services has doubled in the past few years, literally doubled,” said Waldron.

He suspects it’s a combination of the growth of the county, food insecurities in general and COVID.

“As seniors get older, sometimes it’s a little difficult financially, especially now since the increase in food costs and this is a good way to provide them with a meal,” Barnhart explained.

Volunteers can make a critical difference.

“We’re always looking for volunteers, especially with COVID now,” said Waldron. “Many in our volunteer force — they’re becoming sick, so of course they don’t come in. So we would really appreciate if anyone would like to donate about 3 hours of their time.”

The council gives every indication it will address the demand for increased services.

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