Meals on Wheels cancels annual fundraiser amid coronavirus concerns

Mid-Columbia Meals on Wheels is canceling its annual fundraising breakfast scheduled for March 10 amid concerns about the continued statewide spread of coronavirus.

Though the annual breakfast is one of the biggest fundraisers for the agency each year, Meals on Wheels officials say they believe the safety and well-being of the seniors “far outweigh the importance of any fundraising event.”

The agency hoped to raise $50,000 at the annual breakfast. 

“We don’t wish to panic or overreact to the impact of coronavirus, but we want to act responsibly by protecting our vulnerable senior population, our supporters, and our sponsors. We feel it is incumbent upon us to follow the recommendations of the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and Washington State Department of Health indicating that people should avoid large crowds to help prevent the spread of the virus,” said Kristi Thien, Meals on Wheels nutrition services director, in a news release.

At this time, Meals on Wheels said it plans to continue meal service without interruption for both homebound seniors and mobile seniors who dine at one of the eight senior dining centers.

Seniors and employees who work with seniors may be at higher risk for adverse health complications if they contact the coronavirus, according to the state Department of Health.

In 2019, Mid-Columbia Meals on Wheels served more than 218,000 meals to more than 2,300 seniors in Benton and Franklin counties. Meals on Wheels is a nonprofit, community-supported agency. About 40 percent of funding for the Meals on Wheels program is derived from government sources.

Meals on Wheels officials said it hopes sponsors and donors will continue to support efforts to provide nutritional assistance to allow seniors to remain living independently in their own homes.

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