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Heavy snowfall grounds Meals for Wheels

Multiple food deliveries cancelled as Halifax burdened under extreme weather conditions

3 min read
caption Friday morning, a machine is finishing cleaning off the sidewalk for pedestrians.
Laura Hardy
caption Halifax had 70 cm of snow and 100 km/h winds, making roads difficult to navigate.
Julia-Simone Rutgers

Halifax Meals on Wheels had to cancel deliveries three times this week due to the storms, leaving their senior clients to fend for themselves.

The company delivers food to people who have difficulty preparing meals for themselves. Most of their clients are seniors, but the organization also serves people who have recently been released from the hospital or those with disabilities.

The organization normally serves about 350 meals each week, but this week it served only 160 meals, according to assistant co-ordinator Risa Lee.

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“[Cancelling] one day is one thing,” said Lee. “Three days in a week is another.”

The Halifax Regional Municipality says the region has received close to 80 cm of snow accumulation this week. In areas where streets were plowed, large snowbanks narrowed traffic lanes making driving more difficult and dangerous.

For Meals on Wheels, that meant no deliveries on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

Hilda Taylor, president of Meals on Wheels, said she agonizes over cancelling meal deliveries, but she has to balance the needs of the clients with the safety of the volunteers.

“Winds have been hard [and] roads have been dangerous,” said Taylor.

Backup food

Taylor and Lee say clients are warned when they enter the program that poor weather may cause cancellations. Clients are also told to keep extra food in their homes for days when volunteers can’t make deliveries.

“Everybody understands that weather happens,” said Lee. “It’s our job to make sure they remember that [so] they have backup food in the house.”

Volunteers with the organization call clients each day service is cancelled to ensure they have something to eat in the house.

Fortunately, there were no food shortages for clients this week, said Lee.

The bad weather didn’t stop volunteers from wanting to go out.

“[Wednesday] three people phoned the office offering to go out,” Taylor said.

With many roads and sidewalks cleared, volunteers were able to make deliveries Wednesday but not Thursday when more snow fell.

Meals on Wheels resumed deliveries on Friday.

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    Linda Schwientek

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