Meal delivery drivers help residents deal with heat

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

At any given time, the City of Phoenix, in partnership with the Area Agency on Aging delivers meals to more than a thousand homebound adults, the elderly and the disabled.

When temperatures reach record highs, the meal delivery drivers also act as the first line of defense for this vulnerable population to make sure they are staying hydrated and cool.

Donn Straight is one Valley resident who has been getting meals delivered for the past two years.

“It saves me a little bit of money. It's nutritional. It's good and with the drivers, you know, they're courteous and friendly. And I think it's a good idea on the welfare checks. To me that's very important,” said Straight.

Shelley Smith has been delivering meals in the Valley for the past 16 years. She works for Selrico Services, which has the current contract to provide the meals and delivery service.

“When we were trained, many years ago I was told that (wellness checks) were one of their focal points,” said Smith.

Today, when Smith goes into someone’s home to deliver meals, she said she looks at everything and engages the client in conversation.

“We make sure that we get back to our supervisors, informed them of anything that we see that didn't seem normal or usual for the client. A lot of people don't have family or friends. They're home by themselves and we are the only people they see,” said Smith.

Straight said he has heard of one delivery driver who helped save someone’s life.

“She went to deliver a meal and there was no answer at the person's door. And she had to go in through the garage and she found him on the floor. He had a stroke. I've never had any problem with myself that way but just know what has happened to other people, I think it's a great idea,” said Straight.

Smith said if need be she will also call the clients emergency contact, and that has always seemed to pay off for her and the client.

“They then go out and check on these people and usually they call us the next day to say thank you. My mom had a urinary tract infection and she's very sick. Or, she's in the hospital, she'll be out in a couple of days,” said Smith.

The purpose of the home delivered meals program is to provide an opportunity for the clients to remain independent and in their homes and communities, according to Matt Hamada, spokesman for the City of Phoenix.

During the fiscal year 2015 – 2016, more than 289,000 meals were delivered to homebound clients.

“I really like what I do. I have to tell you, since I've been doing this for so long, I can't really remember anybody who never said thank you for coming and thank you for serving us. It's a very gratifying job,” said Smith.

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