BURRILLVILLE – From Meals on Wheels, to Weekend Snack Packs and emergency grocery delivery, there are several programs in Burrillville to ensure that no one in town goes hungry – even in a pandemic.

And thanks to a large staff of volunteers and help from local businesses, services for those in need have increased, even amid fears over the spread of COVID 19.

“I have an awesome group of volunteers who are eager to help and who are very dedicated,” said Parks and Recreation Director Andrea Hall.

Hall has coordinated the town’s effort to reach out to those who may need help, and noted that 88 residents are now getting Meals on Wheels every Monday through Friday.

A second town-run program ensures that older residents who don’t want to brave the grocery stores can get essential items including food and prescriptions delivered.

Nearly 30 people responded to a call put out for volunteers to help with the programs in March, and Hall said that while things are operating relatively smoothly, she could still use more.

Businesses have also stepped up to help including Serio’s Pizza, and this week many Meals on Wheels recipients have been getting fresh bread with their food thanks to that Pascoag-based restaurant, and two anonymous donors.

Additional support has come from the Levy Foundation, Ocean State Power and Crystal Lake Rehab.

And while the Meals on Wheels and grocery delivery programs are limited to town residents age 60 and older, additional efforts in Burrillville have focused on children and families.

The Weekend Snack Pack program – which, in normal times provides weekend take-home food for 50 children in need, to supplement the breakfasts and lunches the students can eat at Burrillville schools – is now delivering weekly bags of food to some recipients.

Five residents are receiving MREs each week – the prepackaged ready-to-eat rations used by the U.S. military.

“More are available if additional residents would like them,” Hall said.

At random, town officials have been adding fun surprises such as seasonal candy, and other treats and snacks to the Meals on Wheels bags.

Hall said she has a small group of additional ‘behind the scenes’ volunteers who are on call to step in if there is an emergent need, or if a regular volunteer is unavailable.

“The response, overall, has been amazing,” Hall said.  “Residents are so appreciative of getting their items delivered, and so happy to share in some conversation over the phone, or through a mask six-feet-away.”

Hall said she’s grateful for the outpouring of support, and proud of what the town has been able to accomplish.

“I feel extremely lucky to be a part of this effort, and am so grateful for the team who is helping make it possible,” she said.

“Rhode Island may be the smallest state, but it appears we have the biggest heart…certainly here in Burrillville,” Hall said.  “We might be a tiny town quietly tucked away in the northwest corner ‘where not much goes on,’ but we certainly are making a difference in a very big way.”

Residents who need help, or those who would like to volunteer, are asked to contact Hall by emailing ahall@burrillville.org, or by calling (401) 710-7429,  and leaving a voicemail.

To view more resources available for residents 60 and over, visit the Burrillville Aging Stronger Facebook Page.

Resident Kelly Hunt holds up a sign thanking the volunteers delivering food.
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