Food, friendship package deal with Second Harvest’s Senior Outreach Program – WATE 6 On Your Side

WATE 6 On Your Side
MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — When cars filled with groceries or hot food head out to homes of our seniors, those seniors are getting more than just food. They’re also seeing a smiling face and catching up with friends.
That’s one of Linda Manville’s favorite parts of her job as the community nutrition program director at the Blount County Community Action Agency.
“Our seniors are not forgotten,” Manville said. “They’re incredibly important, and as long as I’m here and the people I’m surrounded with, we’re going to make sure that they feel it.”
She’s passionate about what she does, which is making sure senior citizens in Blount County get fed a nutritious meal daily.
“Those could have been our former teachers, our former dentist, the bank tellers. You know, they’re our friends, they’re our neighbors and many of these folks aren’t used to having to ask for help. Especially when it comes to hunger or our inability to prepare their own food,” Tammye Pirie, executive director of the agency, said.
At their center, a huge operation unfolds making sure no meal is missed. They have several different ways to help out their seniors with needs on different levels.
Pirie said most of their elderly population can afford meals, they simply don’t have access to a store.
“Really what they may have problems with is lack of transportation to get to the grocery store. They may be extremely isolated out in some of the wonderful parts of Blount County and really have access problems to getting groceries,” Pirie said.
So, they pack boxes and bags of unprepared groceries, so those seniors can cook for themselves.
Some of their seniors can’t use a stove or oven, so they need access to food that can be cooked easily.
“They still need a little help with preparing, but they can heat up, so we’re able to provide them with frozen meals. And we ensure that they have a microwave and they’re able to heat up their own meals,” Pirie said.
Then, if some can’t operate a microwave, volunteers and staff at the Blount County Community Action Agency center cook hot meals, and other volunteers line up to bring those to the seniors.
“When you can no longer prepare the meals for yourself properly, beyond to say a cup of soup, you kind of need us to help step in so you can stay in your home safely,” Manville said.
Second Harvest helps BCCAA fulfill their mission in numerous ways.
Madison Harmon, the communication and digital media coordinator for Second Harvest, said the older population is often forgotten, when it comes to keeping them healthy and not hungry. But, at Second Harvest and at BCCAA, they don’t let that happen.
“So, what we really try to do is find that population, because they’ve lived a full life. They’ve seen a lot of things. They have paved the way for us in the future, and we want to make sure that they get the help that they need,” Harmon said.
One way Second Harvest helps is by providing food at cheap prices to places such as BCCAA.
“They’re able to offer us food resources at little to no cost, and pass down a significant amount of cost savings so that we can take their food items and prepare all kinds of meals, depending on the degree a senior might need assistance,” Pirie said.
Helping seniors save money is definitely an important aspect for Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee.
“A lot of them don’t have, you know, active income coming in, and so what we try to do is take one of those burdens away and we try to get them a box of food that is going to last them for a good couple of days,” Harmon said.
They also bring in fresh food, which is turned into creative, fresh meals.
“Where they bring change, maybe in stock, over at some of the grocery stores and we get to distribute that or use it in our kitchen for preparing meals,” Manville said.
Through Second Harvest’s partnership, along with some other groups, BCCAA was able to provide more than 300,000 meals last year.
That also means volunteers were able to make friendships along the way, as they drop off those meals.
“So not only have we become a source of food and eliminate some of their hunger needs, we become a friend and somebody that truly cares,” Pirie said.
Their delivery routes may end up being longer than expected, but for a good reason.
“The volunteers and seniors are friends. And so, there’s a lot of touching base, and chatting, and learning about a lot of things that are going on in the seniors’ lives,” Pirie said.
They’re not only feeding their stomachs, but also their souls.
The BCCAA is always looking for more volunteers. You can head to this link to find out how.
Nexstar Media Group is teaming up with Feeding America to bring awareness and help end food insecurity during September, which is Hunger Action Month.
Feeding America is the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization. It’s a nationwide network with 200 food banks and 60,000 community partners coast to coast.
Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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