A gift of $50,000 from the Walmart Foundation to the First Tennessee Human Resource Agency Nutrition Program is providing home delivered meals 30 of 1,500 seniors and disabled adults in the eight-county region on FTHRA’s Meals on Wheels waiting list.
“That’s approximately 1,000 hot meals for a year for 30 of the most needy citizens in our community,” FTHRA’s Executive Director Jason Cody said.
“It’s more than meal. Really, it’s a person’s independence and capability to stay at home.
“By working in partnership with Kathy (Whitaker) and the (Area Agency on Aging and Disability) we are able to take these meals to 30 citizens with the highest priority needs,” or the most physical disability and greatest lack family support to prepare meals.
Walmart managers David Stout and Chuck Bartlett joined Cody, Whitaker, who serves as executive director of the regional AAAD office, and FTHRA Nutrition Program Director Wayne Carter for a ceremonial check presentation held Friday to announced the $50,000 grant from Walmart Foundation’s State Giving Program.
Cody said the foundation awards the grants based on community needs and since the federal sequestration cuts that reduced funding for Meals on Wheels early last year the number of people receiving Meals on Wheels program has decreased while the waiting list has grown.
The underlying purpose of Meals On Wheels and other personal support services provided FTHRA, Cody said, is to avoid the cost of nursing home care by helping seniors and disabled adults remain in their own homes as long as possible.
Prior to the $85 billion in across the board sequestration cuts to federal programs implemented in March 2013, the FTHRA Nutrition program provided approximately 1,000 home delivered and congregate feeding site meals daily to elderly and disabled adults in Washington, Carter, Unicoi, Johnson, Green, Sullivan, Hawkins and Hancock counties.
After the sequestration, the number was reduced through attrition by 20 percent, dropping to approximately 800 meals provided daily by the FTHRA Nutrition Program in September.
Carter said Friday the Walmart grant funds have already been put to work and the program is now an providing about of 850 meals per day to people in need. “We are so grateful for the Walmart Foundation’s support for our program” he said.
“With the most recent sequester the waiting list has increased,” Cody said. “That’s why grants like this one from Walmart are important.”
For area seniors and disabled adults at risk of having to leave their homes because of their need for assistance, Whitaker said, “We have seen that with just a little bit help, a meal or a homemaker (service provider), they area able to stay in their own homes.”
Walmart Manager Keith Davidson said Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are “committed to helping those in need in the communities we serve.”
“Through this grant we are hopeful that residents of Northeast Tennessee will have greater access to food assistance,” he said.