The coronavirus outbreak may have halted or changed things dramatically, but it hasn't touched the effort to offer food services from Pauls Valley's senior citizens center.

This week the center in Wacker Park shut down its dining area, while opening a kind of drive-thru services for regulars.

Sherri Allen, manager of Southern Oklahoma Nutrition Program (SONP) at the local site, says the COVID-19 emergency has only intensified the push to continue serving and delivering food to seniors.

“It's a crazy world right now. I've never seen anything like it,” Allen said.

“Some of the people we serve are the most vulnerable. It's heightened our alert to that, and we're still very serious about making sure we can serve our seniors.”

Until further notice the way it works is members signed up to normally eat inside can reserve the meals and then pick them up by driving to the site's circle drive out front.

“This is for our congregate members, which is basically the people who have signed up for the program,” she said. “They're the ones that can get out and drive and normally come here to eat in the dining room.

“We're asking them to call us and sign up for a hot lunch. They can come starting at 11:30 a.m. and we'll hand you a meal.”

Allen says it's preferable to call the day before with those calls being accepted up until 9 a.m. on the day of the pick up. The number to call for meal reservations is 405-238-5892.

Then there's SONP's continuing efforts to deliver meals to homebound residents.

Hot meals are still being delivered to residents living in town, while boxed lunches are going out to those in the rural areas.

According to Allen, the biggest obstacle looks be whether or not food supplies can meet the needs.

The hope for having enough boxed meals for those living outside of any city limits was on Allen's mind as a supply truck pulled up to the local center earlier this week.

“We've had trouble getting adequate boxed food for all the rural folks. I got my fingers crossed.”

The program is actually trying to meet the needs of 14 sites and residents in multiple counties as Allen's focus remains on serving the Garvin County area.

•••

Literally right across the street is the Pauls Valley Samaritans food pantry, which is now scheduled to close down for the next couple weeks because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Samaritan board members decided this week to close the pantry, located in the old NYA building in Wacker Park, until at least April 7 just to be safe.

At that time the board will reassess the situation and best course of action for the facility that provides food to Pauls Valley residents in need.

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