Mobile Meals delivers smiles amid pandemic this Thanksgiving

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – We’ve highlighted the important work of Mobile Meals Kitchen before; however, the need to deliver meals to senior citizens is greater this Thanksgiving due to COVID-19.

Judith Pelot, director of nutrition services for Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee, said the program served a record 650 people Thursday. That’s an increase of 150.

Pelot explained more older adults are alone this year for several COVID-19 related reasons, including families choosing not to visit to help prevent the spread of the virus. Even those older Americans who were independent before the pandemic began to spread are being hit by its impact.

“A lot of our seniors are by themselves,” she said. “That’s typical for some of our seniors, but usually they’re going to family, getting out, visiting loved ones, and this year they’re not able to do that.”

The meals, porch visits, and quick hellos from volunteers serve as something to look forward to every day, Pelot explained.

The volunteers take extra safety precautions, including wearing masks and gloves, and distancing when possible.

“We’re being extra cautious and making sure to check on them; make sure they’re good, do a lot of porch visits, so they’re able to see someone and know that people care,” Pelot added.

Mobile Meals volunteer Lisa Digby is grateful for the organization and the chance to help.

“If they’re going to make the meals, then I’m going to be here to deliver them. … I think everybody deserves a good meal on Thanksgiving. That’s why I’m here,” she said.

Digby said she sees value in checking in on others, asking how they’re doing, and offering up a hot meal, especially on a day traditionally spent with others.

“We’re all in this together. It just adds a nice feeling to the day. You check in on people. You see how they’re doing.”

Their mission is year-round. If you’d like to help, Pelot said they always need volunteers. She added the program is a safe and rewarding experience.

For more information about volunteering, email MobileMealsVols@knoxseniors.org or call 865-524-2786.

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