A days-long power outage might be irksome if you’ve got cash to spare, but for people with limited means, mobility and access to technology, it’s a whole lot more stressful.
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Enter Community Action of Napa Valley. The organization already operates county food banks and a Meals on Wheels service, but volunteers have been working extra hard during Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s power outages to ensure more people are fed, informed and equipped with supplies.
Sixty-five volunteers have distributed 460 bright red supply backpacks throughout the county, said Lisa DeRose, director of the Meals of Wheels for Seniors program. Volunteers also served an additional 280 meals during the power shutoff last week, on top of the 460 meals usually served on a weekly basis.
“A lot of low-income folks are not going to have the means to replace food,” she said.
Members of Napa Valley Community Organizations Active in Disaster across the county have come together to figure out how to best help the community — especially those with special needs such as disabilities — as it reels from shutoffs, said CANV Executive Direction Drene Johnson. Mental health in the aftermath of emergencies is also a concern.
Seniors without power would benefit from battery packs.
“We learn every time” an emergency occurs, she said.
Feeding and informing
Meals on Wheels for Seniors also seeks to educate seniors who may not have the latest information on whether they will lose power or when it may be turned back on, said DeRose.
Volunteers serve meals, but also perform wellness checks and bring them the latest updates from PG&E, she said. Volunteers deliver seniors shelf-stable food if there is no power on or gas stove in the home.
Meals on Wheels still has some supply backpacks on hand with flashlights, water, ponchos, masks, blankets and emergency contacts, DeRose said. They leave behind comfort food such as candy, chips and granola bars.
The Food Bank tries to distribute food during emergencies, but outages have affected so many neighborhoods that it’s not possible to serve them, King said. The St. Helena food bank opened for Upvalley residents when Calistoga lost power and American Canyon residents were able to come to Napa.
“Last year was like a little reprieve,” she said. “Now here we are again.”
Seniors can receive a weekday hot meal service at 11:30 a.m. at the Napa and American Canyon Senior Centers at 1500 Jefferson St. and 2185 Elliott Drive, respectively. The St. Helena Rianda House Senior Activity Center at 1475 Main St. serves hot meals at noon on Monday, Tuesday and Friday.
Home-bound people 60 years old or older can sign up for Meals on Wheels home delivery service by calling 707-253-6156, ext. 11.
Anyone immediately seeking Food Bank resources can contact 707-253-6128 or visit one of their open locations, such as the Napa Store House at 1746 Yajome St. and St. Helena Community Pantry at 1777 Main St.
To donate to CANV, visit bit.ly/2Ptu9t3 or 707-253-6100.