Mobile Meals program goes high-tech with real-time app

Local News

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — When the COVID-19 pandemic began six months ago, delivering meals to seniors became a priority as they were urged to stay at home.

The meal programs also include a wellness check but with social distancing needed to protect older people that are vulnerable to the virus, the checks have gone virtual.

Mobile Meals volunteers have added a simple app to their smartphones to provide an efficient and faster service.

At the Mobile Meals Center, 1,200 meals were served Thursday. Since the pandemic started in mid-March 150 new seniors have been added to the growing list of new clients.

Volunteer Midge Jessiman delivered a meal to Bobbie, a 91-year-old great-grandmother. Midge not only brings Bobbie a hot meal but asks some simple questions while checking on her well being.

“They’re donating their time and from the bottom of their heart they love people,” Bobbie said.

Not only is a hand-delivered, nutritious meal important for seniors but in the time of COVID-19 that volunteer may be the only person checking in on them.

“The wellness checks I think are more important now than ever because so many of the folks don’t have people checking on them as regularly as they used to,” Shelly Woodrick, Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee community manager, said. “A lot of people are staying home, as we all know.”

On their smartphones, most volunteers have a new app installed leading to better efficiency.
It includes any changes to a client’s condition and a map route for volunteers.

“It helps them with navigation, but more importantly for us, it helps us know if something is going on in real-time,” Woodrick said. “Nutrition, mobile, whatever the case. Then they add the comments that give us a little more information on how we need to follow up on that client.”

Delivering information from the paper system used for years could take 24 hours. But comments from the Wellness app are immediately transmitted to CAC.

“We see that in real-time,” Woodrick said. “Our client care coordinator watches the dashboard while people are out delivering and follows up immediately with things that are needed.”

Meals delivered to seniors is a critical service. Now new technology is providing more timely information as well.

Woodrick says about half a dozen emergencies are reported every week by volunteers. Referrals are also made on the Wellness app. For example, if a senior needs a home repair, it is recorded and sent to the proper group.

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