Tennessee’s South Central Human Resource Agency’s (SCHRA) official website said 1 out of every 6 seniors struggle with hunger.
One way Bedford County is trying to fight hunger and deliver nutritional meals to seniors in these ‘food deserts’ is through several nonprofits.
“I think the need in Bedford County is here for the younger people as well. But we are so fortunate to have the non-profits here, like the soup kitchen—they’ve been amazing,” said Sonia Miller, director of the Shelbyville Senior Center. She said they’re trying to join forces to help the needy in Bedford County.
In partnership with SCHRA, the senior center hosts a Meals on Wheels program where they deliver over 30 or more single meals a day, according to nutrition manager Amy Wilson. The food is provided by SCHRA which conducts a nutrition assessment to those who qualify.
SCHRA also contracts with South Central Area Agency on Aging and Disability. “We serve 13 counties and there are needs in every one of those counties,” said quality assurance coordinator Katrina Crisp.
Crisp said seniors are assessed by one of the agency’s service coordinators to determine if they are unable to physically get food. For people or spouses of those 60 years old or older, they must be physically or mentally unable to get meals, homebound or isolated (that is, no friends or family), and/or frail.
Congregate meals, which are served at the senior center, are also available. But for those living far outside the city limits, the program delivers a five-pack of frozen meals so that they last throughout the week.
Miller added, “Through the years I’ve been doing this, I’ve seen a lot of people that that may be the only nutritious meal they get and can afford on a daily basis.”
When talking about food deserts, lack of transportation is major factor in aiding such food availability problems, especially for seniors, who either cannot drive or do not have a vehicle.
But things aren’t easy for these nonprofits, like the senior center, who are struggling to recruit volunteers and afford rising gas prices. Currently, they have 18 volunteers with the Meals on Wheels program.
Wilson said, “We couldn’t do it without them. It just makes you feel good to help people.”
Miller added that the senior center also received a $5,000 state grant for breakfast meals to be delivered. “We try to be as diligent as we can with the money.”
To register for home delivered meals, call 931-684-0019 or visit Shelbyville-Bedford County Senior Citizens Center at 111 J.G. Helton Drive (across the street from Shelbyville Central High School.)