KINGSPORT — Meals on Wheels of Kingsport can now serve more people in need thanks to a donation from Food City.

Three Kingsport Food City stores each donated five coolers to Meals on Wheels, allowing the organization to serve meals to 15 additional recipients. The organization has continued operating during the pandemic, with new safety measures in place.

What is Meals on Wheels?

Meals on Wheels of Kingsport began providing nutritious meals for those who are disabled and living at home in the mid-1970s. Since that time, the organization has grown to prepare more than 200 hot meals each weekday.

Two local churches, Waverly Road Presbyterian and First Presbyterian Church, have allowed Meals on Wheels volunteers to use their kitchen facilities for many years. More than 200 volunteers cook and deliver the food each week.

How has COVID-19 affected Meals on Wheels?

Like many other organizations, Meals on Wheels was not immune to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. During March, to reduce person-to-person contact, all recipients were provided a cooler so that their meals could be safely delivered outside their doors.

In early April, the situation changed again. Since many cooking teams and delivery volunteers are retired or at higher risk for complications from COVID-19, several felt it was necessary to temporarily suspend their service to limit contact with others. At that time, weekly frozen meals were purchased, and smaller teams of volunteers were utilized to continue delivery once a week to the coolers outside recipients’ homes.

In June and July, the cooking teams and delivery volunteers adjusted to a new normal by preparing hot meals and making deliveries to coolers each weekday, while adhering to several new procedures to ensure safety and social distancing.

Why were more coolers needed?

Once hot meals were up and running again, Meals on Wheels was eager to serve even more recipients but needed additional coolers. Three Food City stores stepped in to meet that need.

With the donated coolers, Meals on Wheels can serve 15 more vulnerable individuals, giving them not just a hot meal, but also a friendly smile and wave from someone who cares. The organization is grateful for the community’s support and is always looking for more volunteers to cook or deliver meals.

How can you help?

If you are interested in volunteering with Meals on Wheels of Kingsport, or if you would like to have meals delivered to you or a loved one, visit www.mealsonwheelskingsport.org or call (423) 247-4511.