ALCOA, Tenn. (WATE) — A popular restaurant in Alcoa teamed up with a veteran’s group and the Blounty Community Action Agency Tuesday to take meals to local veterans who are unable to leave their homes due to the coronavirus pandemic.

WATE 6 On Your Side’s Don Dare says food was dropped off to dozens of veterans throughout Blount County.

Fifty veterans on Tuesday received meals prepared by Texas Roadhouse and delivered by Catholic War Veterans around Blount County. The senior veterans receiving meals were the first of more than 200 who will eventually have food delivered to them.

At Texas Roadhouse, kitchen staff, servers, and others from the restaurant carried bags of home-cooked meals outside to their parking lot in Alcoa Tuesday morning.

There, volunteers from the Catholic War Veterans group and others combined the restaurant meals with additional groceries by the local Meals on Wheels program.

“We’re preparing chicken breasts, baked potatoes, salads, and bigger portions for the families, even if there is a single home. We’re also giving them bread and peanuts. Each veteran will get four meals, it’s a family pack we’re calling it for individuals.”

Shawntae Brisendine – Texas Roadhouse

Members of Catholic War Veterans Post 1973 provide service on a number of community projects every year. When asked to participate in this veteran to veteran effort, half a dozen volunteers stepped forward knowing how much some senior fellow veterans would appreciate the food.

“I think the need is people are so afraid to get out because they’re stuck in their home. So, we’re making it easy for them to have food on the table and enjoy a nice meal especially from Texas Roadhouse.”

Mike Peterson – Catholic War Veterans Post 1973

At the Smoky Mountain Meals on Wheels Center, volunteers bagged groceries in Maryville on Monday. Included in the bags are handwritten notes, thanking the veterans for their service.

The service project called Senior Veterans Meal Outreach was funded by a COVID-19 federal grant. The effort is the first of several scheduled over the next few months by the Meals on Wheels program and the Blount County Community Action Agency.

“The money came from a grant we wrote in working with the United Way of Blount County that has some special money set aside for COVID-19 impact in the community. We applied for this to reach out to our veterans and their families and their spouses so they can stay safe and they can have food.”

Tammye Pirie – Blount County CAA Director

Walking with a purpose as his Drill Sergeant reminded him, U.S. Army veteran Baron Johnson made his first delivery of the day to fellow Air Force veteran Alida Johnson who is recovering from surgery.

Baron Johnson says it chokes him up a little bit when asked what it means to him doing this, “Helping other veterans has always been something close to my heart. As a physical therapist, helping people has always been my livelihood. This is an extension now that I’m retired not only to the veterans, but to the community I served for 25 years.”

The Blount County Community Action Agency anticipates a second senior veterans meal outreach event sometime in the next month.

The CAA says it would like to recruit other veterans’ groups to join it. It is the state veterans affairs office in Maryville that coordinates with the CAA to find older veterans who may need assistance with food.