Ted had been in the hospital. He’d been very sick. And when he returned home, cooking just wasn’t feasible.
COVID-19 made things even worse. Restaurants he’d ordinarily counted on were shuttered. The food program at his local activity centre, James Bay New Horizons (JBNH), shut down.
Before the pandemic, JBNH offered community members like Ted two meal options every week. He and his wife had been regulars of Tuesday lunches and Sunday suppers. But when COVID came along, the kitchens that supplied the meals closed down.
Ted wasn’t the only senior in this predicament.
“There were a lot of older people out there who didn’t like cooking anymore, and who depended on these other sources. And they were all thinking: what are we going to do?”
The More than Meals program, run by James Bay New Horizons, was his lifeline.
A generous local restaurant, organizational know-how and improvisational skills at JBNH, and Federal funding all sparked the rapid, near-immediate development of what ultimately became More than Meals.
As the pandemic stretched on, the program grew, reflecting the broader needs of seniors at the heart of More than Meals. The program name says it all: nutritious meals are essential, but so too is human connection. The meals are hand-delivered to homes. Volunteers check in with the elders, making sure they’re doing ok. The conversations between volunteers and seniors aren’t transactional; they’re essential.
United Way Southern Vancouver Island, a long-time supporter of JBNH, witnessed the great work and supported the program’s expansion so it could deliver meals to even more seniors in Southern Vancouver Island.
Like all More than Meals participants, Ted and his wife receive three healthy meals each week, delivered by a volunteer who also provides a social visit and wellness check.
“Thank you so very, very much for taking the time and putting the effort out to do all this, so that people out there who are lonely and in need of good food are being looked after.” – Ted
“When Jude turns up at the door,” Ted says with a smile, “it’s someone to talk to.” (Jude, it turns out, is more than a random bike-riding volunteer who shows up on Wednesdays—he’s also the President of the Board of Directors at JBNH.)
“The conversations are important,” says Ted. “Me, I’ve got a partner, but a lot of people are single. And they appreciate and enjoy the chance to talk.”
Now Ted can focus on writing, his retirement project. He’s written for the James Bay Beacon, focusing on historical landmarks in the community. Recently he’s returned to a long-term project: chronicling his personal history as a teacher and resident of Texada Island for more than 40 years.
Ted’s looking forward to many more chapters in his life.
United Way Southern Vancouver Island believes that seniors should be able to age with dignity and respect and have access to healthy and nutritious meals and supportive companionship.
Many seniors in the region experience extreme loneliness, malnutrition, mobility issues, and limited income. COVID-19 amplified these challenges: social interactions with friends and family, grocery shopping, in-person doctor’s appointments, and outdoor activities became extremely limited.
The result was increased isolation, depression, and anxiety, as well as food insecurity.
Even as we recover from the pandemic, the needs for seniors in the community remains high.
Last year, UWSVI supported 16 different programs dedicated to seniors, meeting the urgent needs of 8,808 people in our region.
Unite with us to ensure seniors and elders over the age of 65 receive the support they need.
WHAT YOUR GIFT WILL SUPPORT :
Provide a month’s food supply for a food bank, supporting 60 seniors.
Provide seven FOODSAFETM workshops so volunteers learn how to safely prepare meals for community members.
Provide reimbursement for 500 kms of mileage for volunteer drivers assisting seniors.