Senior Grocery Program delivering for area seniors

Sue Guinn Legg • May 11, 2017 at 10:51 PM

Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee has a new truck on the road making monthly grocery deliveries to 15 low-income senior housing developments in five area counties and is looking for funding to expand the program to the entire eight-county region.

Made possible by a $35,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, the truck made its first stop Thursday morning at Mekka's Meadow Apartments in south Johnson City, where residents age 62 and older and often struggle for food at the end of the month when their Social Security income runs out.

Mekka’s Meadow Site Manager Candace Marra said a lack of transportation can also put seniors at risk of running out of food and the beauty of the food bank’s Senior Grocery Program is that it not only brings groceries to the seniors’ homes, it allows them to “shop” for the items they need and want.

“For some of them, it’s the difference in having food for the month or not,” Marra said.

One of three resources utilized by Mekka’s Meadow to help meet its residents nutritional needs, the food bank deliveries are the best food resource the complex has, Marra said.

Thursday’s delivery was heavy on fresh produce, including large, organically grown cucumbers, a couple of varieties of potatoes, sweet onions and carrots. Last month, there were steaks.

“This is the best distribution I’ve ever had,” said Yvett Rudolph, whose appearance defies her 70 years. “Last time they had ribeye steaks, and wings, loads of them. Nice packs of ribeye, and mine had a $22 tag on it.”

“Fresh as can be. Any fresher and it would be insulting,” said 91-year-old Dick Scott, a Army Medical Corps veteran of the Korean War who helped the Second Harvest staff unload their new truck Thursday.

“I’m glad to see the attention given to the seniors,” Marra said. “Families and children are important too, but I think seniors are sometimes forgotten and they are just as vulnerable.

“A lot of them don’t have transportation and that can cause them to run low on food. A lot of them are too proud to tell anyone. But we’re a smaller community with a good enough rapport among the tenants that I usually find out.”

Second Harvest Grant Writer Kathy Smith said the Senior Grocery Program has been up and running since February. The new truck was a great addition to the program. And the food bank is looking now for funding to expand the program to more senior housing complexes in all eight counties of Northeast Tennessee.

In the meantime, any senior in Northeast Tennessee may attend the Senior Grocery Program distributions by calling the food bank at 423-279-0430 for locations and more information.

More information about Second Harvest and its nutrition programs is also available online at www.netfoodbank.org.

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