PATERSON, NJ – The Paterson community is doing what it can to make sure seniors, a demographic most at risk of contracting coronarvius, is not forgotten during the pandemic.

Within the past two weeks, Gov. Phil Murphy has closed all schools, ordered the shutdown of dine-in restaurant service, malls, theaters, gyms, casinos and “non-essential businesses,” implemented a curfew of 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. and prohibited public gatherings, which has drastically changed everyday life in New Jersey.

Zellie Thomas, a Paterson activist and teacher, said, “We know that during this pandemic, those that already have the least access to resources will suffer more than those who live in abundance.”

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Many seniors already rely on meal delivery programs if they cannot leave home. But others visit senior centers or other organizations to sit and eat together, but with that no longer an option for the time being, requests for services have increased for food through organizations like Meals on Wheels and Catholic Charities. 

That’s why Thomas, along with several other community members, recently launched an effort to deliver breakfast and lunch to some of the city’s most vulnerable residents, particularly seniors. 

As part of the initiative, the group has partnered with several local restaurants, including Gyro King, Mamma’s Kitchen, Golden Krust, and Patio Latino, which have all provided meals at discounted rates to be delivered, Thomas said. 

IHOP has also been preparing free breakfasts and lunches to be given out to seniors since Gov. Phil Murphy declared a State of Emergency, Thomas added.

Since March 19, they’ve distributed 360 meals, Thomas said. Volunteers deliver breakfast and dinner daily, about 60 meals a day, he said.

“We make sure that no one delivering is sick or has any symptoms. Volunteers use hand sanitizer, gloves and masks when delivering the food, which is prepackaged and bagged by the restaurants,” he said.

They’ve also created a campaign to raise money to purchase meals, he said.

“The GoFundMe goal is $1,000 to sustain us until the weekend, even as the amount of requests grows,” he said. Click here to donate to the campaign. 

If you know a senior citizen who is in need of meals, contact Zellie Thomas.


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