KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – For the Mobile Meals program, 150 new households have been added since mid-March.
There are three additional routes with new volunteers distributing food to a growing number of seniors and others who are shut in because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kitchen workers for Knoxville’s Mobile Meals program have kicked into overdrive.
Hot meals being prepared today will be enjoyed by more than 1,100 seniors who are at home because of the pandemic. Every day, dozens of cars pull up outside the Mobile Meals distribution center.
Extra volunteer drivers have been added to meet the demand of 150 new households since mid-March when local safer-at-home orders were first made.
“Our criteria is homebound, over 60 and have trouble cooking for yourself. Well, all of a sudden everybody was homebound. They go out every day Monday through Friday. We have 70 routes a day to cover now. That is an increase over pre-COVID numbers,” Shelly Woodrick, Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee Community Manager, said.
To cover those new routes, extra funding was needed to buy additional food and so one had to be on a waiting list.
That’s when the United Way of Greater Knoxville provided an extra $19,000 to the CAC.
“I have a hot meal every day at lunch. You see I can’t stand up very long,” Bobbie, a senior, said. “They’re donating their time from the bottom of their heart and they love people. They love people.”
It was six weeks ago, when Mobile Meals changed from its regular daily deliveries to once a week in order to help mitigate the spread of the virus.
That meant volunteers like Jim Gormley limited personal contact with those he visited lowering the risk of spreading COVID-19. Again, the food was appreciated.
“I couldn’t praise God more for what they’ve done,” Jim Rager, a senior, said. “Yes, the food is fantastic.”
But delivering meals is now back to daily service as rules were relaxed by the city and county.
“It’s just really important to see our seniors every day. We find people who fall. We find people who just need extra help,” Judith Pelot said.
“I love these people in Mobile Meals. And, they’re just love bugs. You get so much out of it. They become like family. You see what they need and you see if you can help them,” Midge Jessiman said.
The need is growing and so it the help. From volunteers who deliver the meals to staff who prepare them, Mobile Meals is a critical service meeting the demand for the most vulnerable in these difficult times.
When everyone was ordered to stay at home back in mid-March, Mobile Meals told us that the United Way of Greater Knoxville immediately got in touch with CAC asking how it can help.
There’s no “waiting list” as help to those in need is immediate.
Now that Mobile Meals is back to daily deliveries, volunteers are able to spend more time with seniors. For some, that volunteer may be their only visitor of the day.
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