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Meals on Wheels in need of volunteer cooks, drivers

Staff Report • Jan 10, 2020 at 8:30 AM

KINGSPORT — If you’re looking to volunteer more in the new year, Meals on Wheels of Kingsport wants to hear from you.

The organization is once again in need of volunteer cooks and drivers to prepare and deliver meals for more than 200 locals in need. Brenda Overbey, program coordinator for Meals on Wheels, noted that even a small time commitment can make a big difference.

“How often do you get the chance to make a difference in the lives of over 200 individuals by giving as little as 60 minutes of your time each month?” Overbey said.

What is Meals on Wheels?

Meals on Wheels of Kingsport is a community-based service that prepares and delivers fresh, nutritious meals each weekday to elderly and disabled individuals in the greater Kingsport area, all at no charge.

Meals on Wheels provides more than just a meal, though. Drivers provide social contact and friendly checks on meal recipients; these special connections are meant to ensure the clients’ well-being and brighten their day.

United Way of Greater Kingsport covers 85% of the program costs for Meals on Wheels of Kingsport. The rest of the funds are provided by donations from individuals and organizations.

Cooking teams

Meals on Wheels has an immediate need for at least three cook teams. Waverly Road Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian Church donate the use of their kitchens for meal preparation each Monday through Friday, including holidays.

Typically, volunteer cooks will work as three- or four-person teams responsible for one day per month. The cook teams plan their own menus and prepare their meals, spending about three hours on their assigned day to prepare 100-140 meals from one of the two kitchens.

The teams typically begin their work at about 8 a.m. After the food is prepared and put into Styrofoam containers, the cooks clean up and are generally finished by 11:30 a.m.

“Volunteer cooks play a vital role at MOW,” said Liza Harmon, a volunteer cook and driver.

Meal delivery

Volunteers are also needed to deliver meals to the recipients. Fourteen delivery routes have been planned and maintained, with each route consisting of 15-20 meals.

The routes are planned to minimize the volunteer’s travel time between stops. Generally, each route can be delivered in an hour, and most routes are delivered by teams of two people — one person who drives and another who takes the meals to the doors of the recipients.

Volunteers use their own vehicles to deliver the meals, which are picked up at the kitchen at 10:30 a.m. and delivered by noon. Drivers who work can often complete their routes during their lunch breaks.

“Meals on Wheels is a great option if you want to get the whole family involved,” Harmon said. “Children can ride along to help deliver meals and bring joy to recipients.”

Receiving meals

Overbey said Meals on Wheels can also accept a few more meal recipients. A physician’s signature is required on the application, and age and the extent of disability is considered.

Those who are recovering after a hospitalization or who are unable to prepare a meal or shop for themselves are invited to fill out an application, which can be downloaded from www.mealsonwheelskingsport.org.

For more information, contact Meals on Wheels by phone at (423) 247-4511 or by email at [email protected]

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