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Greater Lynn Senior Services meeting increased meal demands

By Gayla Cawley | March 24, 2020

LYNN — Greater Lynn Senior Services has increased its food delivery and output to meet the increasing demand from elderly clients left stranded by the coronavirus outbreak. 

Although GLSS, a Lynn-based social services agency, has always provided Meals on Wheels deliveries and on-site “Grab and Go” options for North Shore seniors, the number of meals provided has been on the rise as more people have requested help with food. 

That’s because many seniors, one of the groups most at risk of developing serious COVID-19 illness, are heeding the advice of health experts to avoid large crowds, socially distance themselves or stay home entirely, and therefore, lack access to food. 

“We don’t want to leave anybody hungry,” said GLSS CEO Kathryn Burns. “It’s hard enough for our folks to cope with just the vastness of this emergency, and we definitely want to at least make sure they have the food they need.” 

Meals on Wheels deliveries will be made on Wednesdays and Fridays. Grab and Go meals will be available for pickup on those days at the Lynn Senior Center, located at 8 Silsbee St. 

Burns noted that further restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus imposed by Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday caused GLSS to cut back from providing food five days a week, but she said the organization is compensating by providing more food all at once. 

For instance, rather than elders receiving one meal at a time with Meals on Wheels deliveries, they will receive frozen meals and shelf-stable food, along with one hot meal, which is meant to last several days.

Burns said seniors are grateful for the additional food access options, noting there was a substantial increase in people who took advantage of the “Grab and Go” meals last Friday. GLSS gave out 42 of those meals that day, an uptick from the 12 meals that are typically needed each day.

“There is a certain group of our consumers that definitely still need some pretty intensive support and we are still hearing from them,” said Burns. “Other seniors are hunkering down and coping pretty well, but we are definitely hearing from some pretty needy folks still.” 

GLSS has about 4,000-plus consumers daily and delivers 360,000 meals each year. Baker’s order Monday to close all non-essential businesses and prohibit gatherings of more than 10 people has also caused GLSS to retool how it delivers other services to seniors. 

For instance, the organization’s case management workers are working from home, but are still available to clients for services such as money management and psychiatric support. Friendly check-ins will be conducted to help elders while they’re isolating at home, Burns said. 

“We are on a regular call with the City of Lynn and we’ve reached out to the other cities we cover to try and coordinate care provisions as well and share resources,” said Burns. “It’s a coordinated effort and we still believe we are covering an awful lot of services and allowing a lot of elders to stay safe in their homes.” 

If anyone aged 60 or older needs help, they can call GLSS at (781) 599-0110 or access glss.net for information on what services are offered. If current clients have food shortages, they should contact their case manager. 

Other food access options for seniors include extended early morning shopping hours at grocery stores such as Market Basket, Stop & Shop and Whole Foods Market. Stop & Shop also delivers groceries through their Peapod program. 

My Brother’s Table, located at 98 Willow St., is offering free meals from 12 to 6 p.m. on weekdays and various restaurants in the area are offering takeout and delivery options.