PARKSTON — As the push for social distancing and avoiding large groups naturally seems like an issue for larger cities, even in small towns across the state people have begun keeping their distance.
For Wanda Bertram, co-owner of Boom’s Restaurant and Catering in Parkston, she still wants to make sure that the seniors who traditionally frequent her restaurant for their senior meals continue to have access to a homemade meal.
While demand for Boom’s to deliver senior meals to homes has been growing, Bertram said the coronavirus really moved up the timeline of starting a delivery program.
“I have the workers, with kids being out of school and have two high school girls myself and some volunteers now, that can just take the time and do a delivery,” said Bertram, who’s in her third year of the senior meal program.
Boom’s has already been offering Meals on Wheels to the Avera St. Benedict Health Center hospital in Parkston.
In the last week Bertram said she’s seen a noticeable shift in the number of patrons dining in and she wanted to make sure seniors could still get a home-cooked meal. Hers is one of the many businesses and restaurants that has adapted to the evolving worldwide situation with coronavirus.
“If I don’t do it, how are they going to get the quality food that they need to be eating? Their meat, potatoes their vegetables? Otherwise, if they're just at home, they're going to open up a can of soup or just a sandwich, and they're not going to get a quality meal.
“All of my items are homemade,” Bertram said. “The desserts are all made from scratch, salads are all from scratch.”
Boom’s is a senior meal site in Parkston as part of the South Dakota Department of Human Services Nutritious Senior Meals program available to people over the age of 60.
Bertram co-owns Boom’s with her husband Robert. On average, she typically gets 60-65 seniors who would come through either dining in or through the drive-thru.
“Our drive-thru has increased. I had, out of 50 seniors served (Tuesday), 38 to-gos, and 12 that stayed,” she said.
Originally going to start next Wednesday, Bertram decided this past Tuesday would be the first-day delivering meals. While Boom’s only delivered six meals on Tuesday, Bertram expects that number will grow even with dine-in still currently available for people.
Parkston residents who want to make orders for senior meal home deliveries should call the restaurant by 10:45 a.m., Bertram said.
Bertram noted that deliveries are currently limited to Parkston’s city limits.
While cleanliness has always been a priority, Bertram noted an even higher focus on making sure that more communal things such as door handles and other items people regularly use are frequently cleaned.
“If I noticed a more drastic decline in the numbers of people coming in, I will (close the dining area),” Bertram said. But as of right now she doesn’t plan to.
While the coronavirus pushed up Boom’s plans for offering senior meal deliveries, Bertram plans on continuing to offer deliveries year-round.
“I've got a couple of volunteers now so I'm hoping I can just continue to do it all year round for them,” she said. “Especially during the wintertime when it's too icy, snowy that (seniors) can't get out.”