Harsh winter disrupts senior meal deliveries

For programs that bring meals to the homebound and that offer senior citizens lunch at senior centers, spring can’t come too soon.

“This has just been much more challenging than other winters have been,” said Susanna Sussman, executive director of Meals on Wheels of White Plains.

Amid the string of storms that began Christmas weekend and continued through January, programs made extra meals to deliver so those who are homebound have something to eat when a blizzard stops deliveries.

When the weather is too bad, the program is called off for the day. That was the case several times this winter for meal delivery programs throughout the region.

“There have been times when it’s just not possible,” Sussman said.

Patricia Gallagher, 87, has been volunteering for Meals on Wheels Programs and Services of Rockland for more than 12 years — delivering food to people often younger than her. The past months were particularly tough, the New City resident said.

“It definitely is the worst winter,” Gallagher said. “It really is.”

Gallagher, who had her hip replaced, had to skip her run on two occasions.

“The snow is one thing, but the ice, that really stops me,” she said. “I don’t want to fall.”

She delivers one hot meal and one cold one to 12 homes in Nanuet once a week.

It was also a long, cold winter for Libby Deutsch.

“I’m a little bored because I’m not a stay-at-home person,” the 84-year-old Monsey woman said. “I like to do my own thing and get in my own car.”

Unfortunately, her car battery recently died. It’s also cost her a lot of money to get her driveway shoveled. To keep busy, she knits hats and scarves, paints flowers on canes and cleans her house. Her daughter visits her every weekend.

Deutsch, a retired school bus driver who is recovering from cancer, has meals delivered by a Meals on Wheels volunteer five days a week.

“They’ve been wonderful except for just two days when it was really bad,” said Deutsch, a retired school bus driver. “That was OK because no one could get out. I have a mountain of snow in front of my house.”