PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – More than 1,000 seniors in Central Illinois depend on Neighborhood House daily for meals, and those needs to do not stop with the COVID-19 pandemic.

In fact, the demand has grown — all while the Peoria-based non-profit adjusts to protect its own staff and volunteers.

“Right now about a third of my staff is not reporting,” said CEO Becky Rossman. “A lot of them are self quarantining because they are in the high risk categories.”

Many of the non-profit’s Meals on Wheels volunteers are at least 75 years old, and some have autoimmune and asthmatic symptoms.

“The need is so great. We are getting so many referrals to feed not only seniors, but individuals who are under the age of 60 who are home-bound and can’t go out and cook for themselves,” said Rossman.

Unfortunately, she says, Neighborhood House can only add about 120 people to capacity. The non-profit’s biggest program currently feeds 750 people with a goal of 870.

To fill the gaps, Neighborhood House has hired seven new staff, but volunteers are also welcome.

Rossman says the non-profit will assemble shelf stable meals for seniors and will need roughly 20 to 25 volunteers for packaging and at least another 80 to 100 volunteers to deliver the meals.

Watch the full interview with Neighborhood House CEO Becky Rossman to learn more about volunteering efforts to feed seniors in Peoria and Tazewell County.