ADVOCAP delivering almost 800 meals a day in Winnebago County

Published: Apr. 16, 2021 at 4:33 PM CDT
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WINNEBAGO COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - Vaccinations may be up, but that doesn’t mean everyone is leaving home just yet.

Each day, ADVOCAP drivers pack up meals, providing home deliveries for seniors in need.

“It’s nice to offer them the food. We actually went up over 14,000 meals compared to last year,” said Dawn Paterson.

Food Nutrition Director Dawn Paterson says that number pertains to Winnebago County alone, where the home deliveries are filling in for the 11 in-person meal sites ADVOCAP has closed during the pandemic.

“Our average is like 789 [meals] a day. We actually have more people than that but they choose like Monday, Wednesday, Friday,” said Paterson. “So, people can pick and choose what days of the week that they want.”

“We used to do some home delivered meals, now we’re doing all home delivered meals,” said Executive Director Mike Bonertz.

Bonertz says ADVOCAP assists people in poverty through several programs with 16 agencies throughout Wisconsin.

He says they’ll continue to air on the side of caution during the pandemic, especially when serving the most vulnerable populations.

“We hope we’re at the end of it, but the statistics aren’t saying that so we’re still trying to be very careful,” said Bonertz.

“I do not see the sites opening anytime soon because of this, and it’s a shame because not only did they look at it for food, but they looked at it for socialization,” said Paterson.

Paterson says 40 percent of the seniors they serve say the delivery driver is the only person they see all day.

“It’s a huge responsibility and the drivers are wonderful. They make sure they stop and talk,” said Paterson. “They know if the person’s just seeming a little off that day, they know that they’re just going to sit there a little bit longer, calm them down, see how they’re doing.”

“[The drivers] are some of the most dedicated folks that we have,” said Bonertz. “They care about the people that we’re working with and that they deliver meals to and see every day.”

Taking that extra time to hand the food off and check in serves as more than emotional support.

“That has actually helped people. There’ve been a lot of people that have fallen and we even found some people that have passed away,” said Paterson. “So they feel very comfortable knowing that somebody’s going to be there.”

Now more than ever Paterson says they’ve learned how much their help is needed. Something she thinks a lot of people have learned over this last year.

“It’s wonderful to see a community come together and I think a lot of people are going to continue that,” said Paterson.

ADVOCAP is always in need of volunteers and accepts monetary donations as well to support their programs.

Visit the ADVOCAP website for more information.

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