Current Volunteers

Volunteer holding meals on wheels meal cooler bag.

Below, is a collection of helpful tips, instructions, and procedures to make your experience volunteering with Meals on Wheels of Durham safe, productive, and rewarding.

 
 
 

Volunteer Updates

Woman delivery meal to older gentleman on front porch with the graphic text, "Volunteers Needed for the Summer."

As part of our invaluable corps of volunteers and supporters, you understand first-hand the impact you have on older adults in Durham County.

Summer is here and with many of our volunteers traveling and vacationing, we're looking for more helping hands.

Please consider signing up today to deliver nutritious meals or making wellness calls that help ensure that none of our homebound older adults go hungry or are forgotten.

There are several open routes available each week along with open slots on July 5 for our holiday delivery.

Older volunteer smiling and pointing up with three logos under the photo.

Our volunteers are always making a difference, one meal at a time—and we want to return the favor!

Meals on Wheels Durham is proud to partner with AmeriCorps for their Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP).

If you are 55 years or older, you may be eligible for mileage reimbursements, volunteer insurance, and more when you join the program and volunteer with Meals on Wheels Durham.

Interested in learning more? Contact Rena Fraade at rena@mowdurham.org.

Upcoming Volunteer Shifts—Sign Up Today

 

Volunteer Policies and Procedures

On Mondays, meals should be picked up at the Meals on Wheels Durham office between 9 am and 11 am. For hot-meal deliveries Tuesday through Friday, meals should be picked up between 9:30 am and 10:30 am. Volunteers may work alone or in pairs, depending on individual preference.

  • Download the MOW Mobile Meals App on your phone and log in to update your deliveries for the day. Volunteer shift details and app login information will be emailed to you the day before your volunteer shift.
  • While delivering meals, each vehicle should display a "Meals on Wheels Volunteer" sign in the window. Volunteer magnets are also available to display on your car.
  • All volunteers should wear a name tag. If you need a name tag, please create one at the sign-in table.
  • Before leaving to deliver your meals, please make sure you have the correct number of meals. This will prevent a return trip to the Meals on Wheels office and subsequent late delivery of meals. Notify staff if you have too many (or not enough) meals for your route. 
  • When you successfully deliver a meal to a client, mark the delivery as "Delivered" on the MOW Mobile Meals App. If a client is not home, mark the meal as "Not Delivered" and indicate that on the Mobile Meals App. Then move on to your next destination.
  • Upon completion of your delivery route, make sure to mark your deliveries as completed and sign out of the MOW Mobile Meals App.
    • Return any undelivered frozen meal boxes to the office.
    • For hot meal deliveries, do as you wish with undelivered meals. Hot meals may be given to other clients on the route, be shared with a friend, or given to someone on the street.

Volunteers must be aware of the confidential nature of client information, which must be observed for the protection of the client, the volunteer, and the Meals on Wheels program. Do not reveal clients' names or personal matters to anyone other than Meals on Wheels staff members.

If there is a threat of inclement weather, Meals on Wheels Durham will communicate to the public if there are any changes to operations. Updates will be posted on the website, on social media, and will be messaged to volunteers and clients.

  • Meals are not delivered when road conditions make it dangerous for volunteers to drive safely.
  • Both clients and volunteers should tune in to WRAL by 7:00 am for cancellation or delay notification. Additionally, a closure or delay message will be placed on the Meals on Wheels Durham answering machine. Furthermore, all registered volunteers for the cancelled or delayed shift will receive an email.
  • If you are uncertain about whether the Meals on Wheels Durham office will be open, please call the office at 919-667-9424 to confirm cancellation prior to venturing out into unsafe driving conditions.

Meals on Wheels Durham continues to require that all staff, volunteers, clients, and visitors wear proper face coverings when inside the building and on delivery routes, check their temperatures upon arrival, and wash/sanitize hands upon entering the building. In addition, volunteers must undergo a pre-shift, self-screening process before arriving for their volunteer shift. Furthermore, clients and volunteers reserve the right to refuse meal delivery if either party is not wearing a mask.

Safety is of our utmost concern and we recommend volunteers follow CDC guidelines and consult their doctor if they are experiencing any flu-like symptoms or symptoms of COVID-19.

Meals on Wheels Durham continues to monitor local and national COVID-19 regulations. Operations are subject to change due to CDC and local guidelines. Stay up-to-date on the latest news concerning COVID-19 and Durham County.

Special Instructions for Meal Delivery

  • Call each client on the way to their home before delivering so they can have time to collect their meal.
  • Check the "Special Instructions" in the Mobile Meals App for each client.
  • Log all deliveries and sign out of the Mobile Meals App upon route completion.
  • Address each client using his/her name. 
  • Show genuine interest in each client, and be a good listener.
  • Speak clearly and audibly, as many clients are hard of hearing.
  • Be optimistic and confident.
  • Do not direct the conversation towards a client's illness or disability.
  • Do not give your home telephone number to clients, and refrain from using your own money to meet a client's needs.
  • Smile!

Call, Knock, Wait Icons from Delivery Instruction

Call

Call your client before you deliver each meal. Many of our clients are hard of hearing and may not hear your knock, or they may need some time to get ready for your arrival. If a client doesn't answer the phone, leave a message.

Knock

When you arrive at each client's residence, knock loudly and announce you are with Meals on Wheels Durham.

Pro Tip: Use a golf ball to knock on doors — we have plenty available at the office.

Wait

Wait at least 2-3 minutes for the client to reach the door. If your client doesn't answer the door in that time, please leave a hang tag on their door to indicate an attempted delivery. Hang tags are available at the office.

Help Us Close The Loop

If a client doesn't come to the door please leave a message in the comments on the Mobile Meals App and click "Not Delivered". Often, we receive calls from clients stating they were home all day and did not get a delivery—the more information we have the better! 

Due to funding-related requirements from the Department of Health and Social Services, as well as food safety compliance, we cannot leave meals unattended or with neighbors. Meals can only be given to a Meals on Wheels Durham client or to their care provider. If a client is not home, please do the following:

  1. Call the client first in case they did not hear the doorbell or knock.
  2. Check "Special Instructions" in the Mobile Meals App to make sure there isn't any additional information about where to leave meals or how to deliver meals to a specific client.
  3. Leave a "We Missed You" hangtag on the doorknob of any client that is not home. This is our only confirmation that we attempted to deliver their meals.
  4. On the Mobile Meals App, check "not delivered" and leave a note in the app.
  5. Return any undelivered meals to the Meals on Wheels Durham office.

If you are delivering meals and feel that a client is unsafe for any reason, please call Durham's Non-Emergency Number at (919) 560-4600 so authorities can conduct a wellness check. If your client is in imminent danger or needs immediate medical attention (e.g., has fallen, has sustained an injury) call 9-1-1. We request that you do not touch or move a client to prevent any harm or further injury.

For any other questionable situations that you might experience while delivering to clients, please make a note in the Mobile Meals App or contact our office at 919-667-9424.

If you encounter an unsafe situation on the route you are delivering, do not deliver the meal. You are to use your discretion and judgment to determine for yourself if you feel unsafe. Please notify the Volunteer Service Coordinator if such a situation occurs.

If you notice anything unusual on the route or a change in the condition of a client, please inform the Meals on Wheels Durham office of anything unusual on the route such as incorrect directions, or if you have observed a change in the condition of the client. Meals on Wheels Durham always follows up on these reports.

Furthermore, if at any time during your service with the Meals on Wheels Durham program a situation arises where you are unsure of the appropriate course of action, please call the Meals on Wheels Durham office at 919-667-9424.

Sometimes clients may wish to make a contribution to the Meals on Wheels program by sending it along with a volunteer. If you receive a contribution from a client, please return it to the office and give it to a member of our staff.

Meals on Wheels Durham realizes that unexpected events may arise which prevent you from delivering a route on your assigned day. If you will not be able to deliver meals on your assigned day please notify our Volunteer Services Coordinator at 919-667-9424 as soon as possible.

Wellness Call Details

The morning of every Wednesday shift, you will receive an email with Wellness Call instructions, important information, and the link to access the Wellness Sheet. Here are the general instructions for Wednesday calls:

  1. Make all calls between 9 am and noon.
  2. Read over the FAQ and COVID Resources Tab.
  3. When calling clients:
    1. Introduce yourself as a volunteer with Meals on Wheels Durham.
    2. Explain that you're calling to check in on them and to confirm they will be home to receive their meals next week.
      • Clients Highlighted in Blue (Frozen meal clients) - ask these clients if they will be home next Monday.
      • Clients Highlighted in Orange (Hot meal clients)- ask these clients if they will be home next week for hot meals.
  4. Write down any comments made by the clients in the "Notes for MOW staff" section on the sheet.

If a client does not answer the phone, please leave a message. Tell them to call the Meals on Wheels office only if they will NOT be home for their delivery. Our office number is 919-667-9424.

The morning of every Friday shift, you will receive an email with Wellness Call instructions, important information, and the link to access the Wellness Call Sheet. Here are the general instructions for Friday calls:

  1. Make all calls between 9 am and noon.
  2. Read over the FAQ and COVID Resources Tab.
  3. When calling clients:
    1. Introduce yourself as a volunteer with Meals on Wheels Durham.
    2. Explain that you're calling to check in on them and to confirm they will be home to receive their meals next week.
    3. Strike up a friendly conversation with the client. Enjoy our wonderful seniors, as you may be the only person checking in on them.
  4. Write down any comments made by the clients in the "Notes for MOW staff" section on the sheet.

If a client does not answer the phone, please leave a message. Tell them to call the Meals on Wheels office only if they will NOT be home for their delivery. Our office number is 919-667-9424.

Route Assignments

Please double-check Scheduler to confirm which route(s) you're assigned to for Wellness Calls.

VIEW YOUR ASSIGNED ROUTE

Where to find the Wellness Call Sheet?

The link to view the Wellness Call Sheet will be included in an email sent to you the morning of your Wednesday or Friday volunteer shift.

Please refer to the information below to help answer client questions about COVID resources available to homebound seniors.

Reporting a Positive COVID-19 test result to MOWD.

In an effort to keep Meals on Wheels Durham clients and volunteers safe, all clients must IMMEDIATELY notify their Wellness Caller or call the office at 919-667-9424 after testing positive for COVID-19

Meals will be delivered by a MOWD staff person on an alternative delivery day for the duration of the client's quarantine.

As a reminder, all clients are required to wear a mask during meal deliveries.

Access to free COVID-19 tests

The White House recently announced a new initiative to provide Americans with accessible COVID-19 tests. To place an order, clients call 1-800-232-0233 or 1-888-720-7489.

The Eldercare Locator (800-677-1116) and the Disability Information and Assistance Line (DIAL) (888-677-1199) can also assist older adults and people with disabilities with placing orders. Both phone lines are staffed Mon-Fri from 9am-8pm.

Clients may also place an order online at https://www.covidtests.gov/

Meals on Wheels Durham cannot order tests for clients.

Access to free COVID-19 vaccines

COVID-19 vaccinations and booster shots are available at no cost to homebound seniors through a partnership between Durham County Community Paramedics and Durham County Public Health. No medical insurance is required.

  • Duke Patients - Contact Elissa Nickolopoulos at 919-684-1439 or email elissa.rumer@duke.edu to set up an appointment
  • Non-Duke Patients - Contact Captain Helen Tripp at 919-475-3991 or email htripp@dconc.gov to set up an appointment.

Meals on Wheels Durham cannot schedule vaccination appointments for clients.

Transportation Services to Vaccine Site

Seniors in need of transportation to a vaccination site can call GoDurham at 919-560-1552 at least 24 hours in advance.

Meals on Wheels Durham cannot schedule transportation for clients.

Vaccine card replacements

If someone has lost their vaccine cards, they can call the COVID-19 Vaccine Help Center at 888-675-4567 from 7am-7pm Mon-Fri or 8am-4pm Sat-Sun.

Meals on Wheels Durham call to replace vaccine cards on behalf of clients.

can meals be left outside, dropped off to a neighbor, or left at the front desk of an apartment complex if a client is not home?

Due to funding-related requirements from the Department of Health and Social Services, as well as food safety compliance, we cannot leave meals unattended or with neighbors. Meals can only be given to a Meals on Wheels Durham client or their care provider. If a client is not home, all frozen and hot meals need to be brought back to the office.

For example:

Question: Can the delivery volunteer leave my meals on my porch or by my front door, I won't be home during the delivery window?

Answer: Unfortunately, we cannot leave meals unattended due to social services requirements and safety rules. If you will not be home during our delivery window (9:30 am to 1 pm), please call the Meals on Wheels Durham office or let me know to notify staff so we can possibly schedule an alternate delivery day.

What if a client wants more or less of a menu item, can MOWD accommodate preferences?

As much as we appreciate our client’s individual preferences, we cannot make any changes to the quantity of food on the menu. We also cannot remove or add on single items because of a disliked menu item. Unless a client has provided a doctor’s note indicating an allergy, milk and other items cannot be removed from meal deliveries.

For example:

Question: I don't like milk, can the volunteer take that out?

Answer: Unfortunately, we cannot remove menu items unless you have a food allergy indicated from a doctor's note. All meals meet proper nutritional requirements for older adults.

What if a client has a food allergy?

If a client has a food allergy, Meals on Wheels Durham requires a doctor’s note verifying the food allergy. The doctor’s note can be faxed, mailed, or brought into the office. Once the note is received by MOWD, we will provide a substitute meal and/or ingredient.

For example:

Question: I am lactose intolerant. Can you make sure I have dairy-free meals?

Answer: Yes, we can accommodate your allergy. Please have your doctor mail, fax, or drop off a doctor's note indicating your allergy to the Meals on Wheels Durham office.

Can clients get ensure or glucerna nutritional shakes for free?

Yes, but Meals on Wheels Durham requires a doctor’s note that verifies the client can have Ensure/Glucerna without any medical concerns. The doctor’s note can be faxed, mailed, or brought into our office. Seven drinks are offered per week at no extra cost.

For example:

Question: Can I get Ensure/Glucerna along with my meals each week?

Answer: Yes, please have your doctor mail, fax, or drop off a doctor's note to the Meals on Wheels Durham office indicating your approval of receiving Ensure/Glucerna without any medical concerns.

Can clients request meals be delivered outside the meal delivery window?

Unfortunately, we are unable to deliver meals outside our delivery window or make accommodations to specific time requests. With over 580 clients and over 50 volunteers delivering meals, it is difficult to make specific time arrangements.

We ask that clients be home to receive their meals between 9:30 am to 1:00 pm on their delivery day.

If a client cannot be home during this delivery window, the client should cancel for that day or ask if it is possible to reschedule. We generally offer a Tuesday delivery instead of Monday for all frozen meal clients if they have a doctor’s appointment on Monday.
 

For example:

Question: Can the volunteer drop off my meals at 11 am?

Answer: Due to the number of clients we deliver to daily, we are unable to accommodate specific time arrangement for delivery. We ask that you make sure you are home between 9:30 am and 1 pm to receive your meals. If you will not be home, please contact the office a 919-667-9424 or let me know so that I can make a note to the MOWD staff.

how long can a client place meals on a hold (taking a break from deliveries)?

A client can be on a hold, or not receive meals, for a maximum of 30 days. After 30 days, the client will need to resume meals or meals will be eligible for termination.

For example:

Question: Can I pause my meal service for over a month?

Answer: Unfortunately, we can only hold your meals for a maximum of 30 days. After 30 days, your meals will be eligible for termination. Please call the office and speak to our Client Services Coordinator.