Emergency meals for seniors produced locally to save money

Emergency meals for seniors produced locally to save money

Posted:
The Blount County Community Action Agency is now producing emergency shelf-stable meals used by agencies in 12 counties. The Blount County Community Action Agency is now producing emergency shelf-stable meals used by agencies in 12 counties.

By MIKE KRAFCIK
6 News Reporter

MARYVILLE (WATE) - Winter storms can mean major power outages for long periods of time. That means many seniors who rely on local meal programs need food that is considered "shelf stable" for emergencies. Unfortunately, those meals can be expensive.  

A local agency in Blount County has found a way to provide more meals to seniors and save money at the same time.  

The Blount County Community Action Agency is now producing emergency, shelf-stable meals used by agencies in 12 counties.  

Regulations require these meals to be distributed to Meals on Wheels clients in case of an emergency when regular meals can't be delivered.    

"There's granola bars, fruit rollups, and whatever the main course. There's chili, chicken, beef stew, that's all the different variations of the meals," said Joani Shaver, program coordinator for the BCCAA Office on Aging. "It's meeting the basic nutrition to keep someone alive if they have no electricity."

Since November, the Blount County Community Action Agency has made about 4,000 of these meals. The meals have been sold to agencies in 12 East Tennessee counties.

The meals are used by mobile meals programs at the East Tennessee Human Resource Agency (ETHRA) and the Douglas Cherokee Economic Authority (DCEA).

Before the meals were made locally, they were purchased from a company in Texas for $3.50 each.  

"The $3.50 was bad enough, but then shipping it from Texas was really expensive, so it was almost cost prohibitive," said Shaver.  

The out-of-state purchases ended when Meals on Wheels Manager Lynnda Manville came on board. 

The agency acquired food at a lower cost and volunteers started assembling the emergency meals.  

BCCAA can produce and sell them at a cost of $2.25 per meal.  

"The thing that's so great about this project is that it's a win for us, because it's a little our income for our program," said Shaver. "It's also a win for the other programs because we're selling to them for less than they were paying before."  

The locally-produced meals mean the Blount County Community Action Agency is bringing in more money to help feed more people.

The money has generated $5,000 in extra income for the Meals on Wheels program.

"We're always looking for things to do save money, so that we can reach more people who are in danger of going hungry," said David Buchanan, executive director for the BCCAA.

Because the shelf-stable meals are prepared by volunteers, the agency isn't spending extra money on staffing.  

BCCAA says they're always looking for more volunteers to put together the meals.

The Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee also makes its own shelf-stable meals. That agency produces around 20,000 meals a year for several counties.

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