Every Wednesday during the 2021 spring semester, a dedicated group of Buffalo State College faculty and staff members fulfilled two essential needs for homebound residents in the Black Rock community: a hot meal and human interaction.
Through FeedMore of Western New York, the volunteers delivered meals each week to about a dozen clients. A nonprofit organization formed by the 2019 merger of the Food Bank of Western New York and Meals on Wheels, FeedMore uses volunteers to deliver nutritionally complete meals to individuals who are over age 60 or disabled and are unable to safely shop or prepare food for themselves. Volunteers drop off the meals at lunchtime—a hot one intended to be consumed right away and a cold one to be heated up later.
“During the pandemic, I was the pinch person for the Adopt-a-Route program and noticed no one had taken the Black Rock route,” she said. “It’s located close to Buffalo State and seemed to fit perfectly with the college’s mission of serving the community in many different capacities. It turned out to be really successful.”
The eight faculty and staff members who responded to DeNysschen’s call for volunteers worked in pairs for one hour every Wednesday, loading up freshly prepared meals from the delivery location and distributing them to the mix of older and medically fragile residents.
Kristen Mruk, associate director of student leadership and engagement, one of the volunteers.
“Sometimes our volunteers are the only people these clients see all day,” DeNysschen said. “While we don’t go inside their homes because of COVID concerns, we can talk to the clients in the doorway or outside. We always call first and never leave the food if the client doesn’t answer the door.”
She noted that if there is a concern, volunteers can contact FeedMore’s social worker to check on the client. The food delivery program, in essence, also serves as a welfare check.
“When I was managing the routes in the Southtowns, a volunteer spotted a client through the kitchen window who had fallen on the floor,” DeNysschen said, noting that the volunteer was able to intervene and help.
DeNysschen plans to continue the initiative at Buffalo State for the upcoming academic year and hopes to expand it. She’s now recruiting additional campus volunteers.
“It’s a way to do good for the community with a short time commitment,” DeNysschen said. “Most of the time, volunteers end up delivering once every four to six weeks. But they still get to know the clients, who look forward to our visits. It’s very rewarding.”
Pictured top: Carol DeNysschen delivers meals to a Black Rock client on August 18.
Photos by Carol DeNysschen and Kristen Mruk.