Lois Dunn, center of Lois’s Restaurant in Mountain City, donates meals to senior center volunteers Janet Rhea Payne, left, and Vanessa Nelson. The Johnson County Senior Center’s Congregate Hot Meal program collects food made by local restaurants to be distributed to area seniors. Submitted photos.
By Meg Dickens
University of Tennessee President Randy Boyd visited Johnson County earlier this month as part of his Extension Office meet-and-greet tour, which proved to be much more successful than expected. During the Thursday, July 16, Johnson County Commission meeting, County Mayor Mike Taylor announced that events related to the visit led to the Boyd Foundation donating $21,000 to the Johnson County Senior Center.
“The donation will extend the Congregate Hot Meal program in Johnson County,” Taylor said.
The Johnson County Senior Center sponsored the Congregate Hot Meal program in cooperation with the First Tennessee Human Resources Agency (FTHRA) and the First Tennessee Area on Aging and Disability (FTAAD).This program provides hot meals for homebound seniors that are sheltering at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Congregate Hot Meal program is different from the Meals on Wheels program, offering drive-through meals at the Johnson County Senior Center from 11 AM to 12 PM daily.
While the Congregate Hot Meal program was still running, Taylor reported the meal count dropped drastically, and hot meals were no longer available after funding ran out approximately three weeks ago. President Boyd found out about this situation while discussing Johnson County’s extension office’s partnership with the senior center. Taylor gathered data at Boyd’s request. Each meal costs an average of $7, and Mayor Taylor explained an approximately 100 meal decrease. Boyd picked up the bill for 100 meals for 30 days, which equals $21,000.
“We are so grateful to Randy Boyd,” said Johnson County Senior Center Director Kathy Motsinger. “˙He says he wants to go out on a route with us to help deliver when the funding goes through.”
This funding helps local seniors receive hot meals, and Motsinger was adamant about using the funds to support local businesses. She is currently drafting a grant to sort out specifics with local restaurants. Motsinger set up the agreement with 20 local restaurants including Lois’ Cafe, Little Caesars, Pizza Plus, Teammates, Pleasants’ Store, Captain Jim’s, Panda Garden, Beet Route, KFC, Honeybee’s, Subway, Suba’s, Neva Grill, Flips, Mike’s Barbeque, and Food County.
For more information about the Johnson County Senior Center and its activities, contact Kathy Motsinger at 727-8883. Find out more about the Boyd Foundation and UT President Randy Boyd at randyboyd.com/philanthropy.