Smoky Mountain Meals on Wheels is a program of the Blount County Community Action Agency and proudly serves the senior population in Blount County. Lying in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, our area includes Townsend, Happy Valley, Walland, Seymour, Tallassee, Maryville, Alcoa, Louisville, Friendsville, Rockford, Greenback and Top of the World.
Blount County is steeped in history and is the home of many families relocated due to the development of the Smoky Mountains National Park, including the Cades Cove area. We currently serve over 600 seniors with our 200+ dedicated volunteers traveling over our area’s 567 square miles of mountain, foothill and country roads to deliver so much more than just a meal.
Our history dates back to our start in 1972. Since the year 2000, we’ve operated out of an old elementary school and have made adaptations. In 2013, we were serving an average of 125 people a day. The growing needs of our seniors led us to develop and introduce a new business model, designed in-house, entitled RAMP (Rural Area Meal Program). RAMP targets an individual’s need and addresses the root cause of the personal food shortage. Many seniors are still able to prepare meals but have a hard time getting to or affording the food.
With RAMP, we now deliver bags of staple groceries with thanks to the Community Food Connection in Alcoa, TN. They, along with Feeding America, Second Harvest and Blount County United Way provide over 200 bags monthly to be delivered.
The next level of service is a weekly delivery which consists of 1 hot and 4 frozen homemade lunches. This level is for a senior who can still store food properly, operate a microwave or oven and be able to choose when & what to eat.
The highest level of service in RAMP is a daily delivery where each client receives a hot meal delivered at lunch time.
RAMP was designed because Smoky Mountain Meals on Wheels, like every nutrition program across the nation, is struggling to keep up with demand. By adding new partners, new levels of service and additional streams of revenue, we were able to increase our outreach and service by 500%.
We have grown from serving lunch to 125 individuals to an astounding 600+ units daily. Our hope is we can keep up with demand in our limited facility. No one in America should go to bed hungry.
Our AniMeals on Wheels program was formed in 2014 out of necessity. Many seniors struggle to care for their loved pets whether it is due to finances or accessibility of for and/or veterinarian services. Many were discovered to be sharing their meals with their furry friends. The obvious benefits of a relationship with their pets affects the well being of the seniors and pets and directly correlates with the mission of Meals On Wheels.
We converted an old shed on the property of Smoky Mountain Meals on Wheels to be the home of AniMeals. With the addition of a solar attic fan and lights and some fresh paint and trim, we now have the largest dog house in the Smoky Mountains! On average, about 1,500 pounds of dog and cat food are being delivered to our seniors on a monthly basis. A grant from Banfield Charitable Trust along with donations from the community allow us to provide both food and limited vet care. In September 2015, we secured a local veterinarian to make house calls to provide rabies vaccines, trim nails and to check on the overall well-being of our clients’ pets. AniMeals will be scheduling annual visits to see those pets which would otherwise not receive any medical care.
AniMeals is a volunteer based program and relies on community support, grants and donations to operate.