The public health emergency that existed because of the pandemic officially expires May 11.

That will have some real life consequences for senior citizens.

Rules that were relaxed during the pandemic now go back into strict effect.

That will affect seniors in two specific ways.

Ordinarily, meals are only delivered to people who are truly homebound–who can’t get out and drive.

When gatherings were canceled during COVID, even people who could drive were allowed home meal delivery.

But now that senior centers are open and serving meals, meal delivery will again be just for the truly homebound.

“It’s not that we want seniors to be alarmed by this,” said Lisa Kazmirski, executive director of Senior Services of Belmont County. “Most people are not going to experience any change whatsoever. But at reassessment time, if we find that you can go out in your own vehicle every day and you can access all the community resources you need, then the best fit for you—based on the rules from the Ohio Department of Aging—are that you attend a senior center for our congregate meal.”

Also, the end of the public health emergency means the end of supplemental SNAP (food stamps) benefits.

So people are suddenly getting less financial help, even as grocery prices are higher.

This could lead to people starting to feel food insecurity.

“We encourage them, first off, to go to their local food pantry,” Kazmirski advised. “But then again to attend their senior center if they can, because there are resources there, there are different programs they can apply for there. But if you are at the senior center, you’ll know more about those programs. You’ll know how to get on those waiting lists, and it’s much easier.”

And if you don’t drive, you can request a ride, and one of SSOBC’s van drivers will come and get you.

You can call Senior Services for more information at (740) 695-4142.

You can log on to their website at, click on the HOME dropdown box and choose The Golden Times.

That’s their monthly newsletter with contact information for each of the county’s senior centers, including their coordinators and drivers.

There are senior centers serving lunches and holding activities Monday through Friday.

They are located in Barnesville, Bellaire, Bethesda, Centerville, Colerain, Flushing, Lansing, St. Clairsville, Martins Ferry, Powhatan and three days a week in Glencoe.

If you want to eat lunch at a senior center, you must let them know in advance.