“I’m grateful for the deliveries. It’s nice to receive the meals and to know the staff hasn’t forgotten about us during this time,” said Earl Robb. The 89-year-old Marine Corps veteran was referencing the weekly meals he and eight other veterans are receiving from St. Ann Adult Day Services.
In August, the Catholic Charities program began some occasional home delivery of meals to veterans as a way to stay engaged and to make sure the veterans’ nutritional needs are being supported. Every meal is low in fat, cholesterol, sugar, and salt to meet everyone’s dietary restrictions.
Director of St. Ann Adult Day Service Cherie Melton said, “Our veterans tend to be somewhat isolated, and we thought by delivering two meals per week, it would serve as an opportunity for our vets to have some face-to-face contact with a St. Ann driver.”
Deliveries adhere to pandemic precautions. Though the meals don’t cover an entire week, participants and their families appreciate what they receive.
“The meals allow me to take a break from worrying about what he is going to eat every day,” said Earl’s daughter, Lisa Robb. “There are times when I am working and don’t have time to stop to prepare him a meal, so this is awesome. It’s an added bonus that he actually enjoys the food every week.”
Weekly meals are not the only outreach team members from St. Ann Adult Day Services are conducting.
“Shortly after COVID-19 struck, we began sending activity packets to our veterans, which include scripture readings, word searches, crossword puzzles, unscramble-the-word and connect-the-dot activities,” said Melton. “Our team cares about our clients, calling them every day to check on their well-being. During these calls we are checking to see if they have enough food and fluids, medications, and essential supplies. These calls also help to combat some of the loneliness that our veterans may be feeling, especially for those who live alone in the community and may have very little if any family support and involvement.”
The center’s nurse calls the eight veterans twice a week to make sure they are taking their medications as prescribed and to determine if there are any health issues or concerns that need to be addressed—a precaution to avoid having the veterans admitted to hospitals and other health care facilities in the midst of COVID-19. If a veteran needs more assistance than what St. Ann staff can provide, the team contacts a social worker.
“Our veterans who attend the adult day program are an integral part of our St. Ann family and are appreciated for the sacrifices that they’ve made for our country,” Melton said. “We honor our veterans by beginning each day reciting the pledge of allegiance and singing ‘My Country, ‘Tis of Thee.’ Although we may not be great singers, I feel that the veterans and the other St. Ann participants enjoy singing the song.”
Minus a pandemic, recognition for veterans at St. Ann generally also includes a special Veterans Day celebration, which involves musical entertainment, a special luncheon, and notes of appreciation for their service.
Veterans Day is Wednesday, Nov. 11.