U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Port Clinton teamed up with the Ottawa County Senior Resources (OCSR) department, to assist in meal distribution, delivering hot meals to seniors in the community.
There are three CBP officers assisting the OCSR: Brian Potts, Stephanie Yeager and James Wray. Until social distancing requirements are dropped, these officers plan to assist the county passing out 15 to 35 meals a day until OCSR can return to a sit-down meal service or until Port Clinton’s workload prevents them from assisting. Currently these officers have passed out more than 250 meals. “One of CBPs core values is “Service to Country”, and in a time of crisis like we are dealing with now, I believe we should embrace that value and serve the people of our country in any way we can,” said CBP Officer Brian Potts.
The OCSR is a division of the county government but they also receive state and federal funding to provide care for the senior citizens in the county. To be eligible for a meal, individuals had to register with the department in advance. Their name was then placed on a list and a meal was prepared for them.
Once registered, the recipients would drive their vehicle to a predetermined site. Each person provided their name and verified that their names were on the approved list. If their name was listed, a meal was retrieved from a cooler from the OCSR office. All meals include a hot item, a cold item such as fruit or gelatin, dessert and a carton of milk. These meals are available to any senior citizen free of charge, and dollar donations are always welcomed.
Initially, there were other volunteers who helped distribute the meals, but those volunteers all had to step back due to their age and other conditions that make them vulnerable to COVID-19. At the time, the OCSR didn’t have anyone else available to distribute meals to the seniors of the community, and expected to have as many as 50 seniors receiving meals per day through this service.
CBP officers in Port Clinton offered their support for the program. The officers have been volunteering for the past three weeks distributing meals every weekday ensuring these meals reach those in need. “There were a lot of smiles and words of gratitude from the meal recipients,” said Potts. “Two of the women told me that without this service they would not have a hot meal to eat. A couple others explained that they are afraid to go to the grocery store right now and that they are making this meal last them for lunch and dinner.”
The Senior Resources department provided PPE, which included latex gloves, a face mask, a hair net and hand sanitizer, to the officers to use while distributing meals.