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Mobile Meals delivers to seniors on Thanksgiving as need increases

This Thanksgiving, Mobile Meals said it delivered more meals than any previous year.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Mobile Meals said it delivered more than 700 meals this Thanksgiving, more than any prior Thanksgiving in the organization's history.

Judith Pelot, Mobile Meals' nutrition services director, said the trend follows an increase in need since the pandemic. 

In Knox County, seniors are the fastest-growing population. Right now, about one in seven people in Knox County are 65 or older. Knox County's Community Action Committee expects that number to increase to one in four Knox Countians by the year 2030.

"I can see us needing more volunteers, more money," Pelot said. "Costs are going up." 

Because of inflation, Pelot said Mobile Meals will need $50,000 more to serve the same number of customers as it does this year. 

The Consumer Price Index said food prices are 10.9% more expensive than they were last year. 

Wellness checks are another part of Mobile Meals' mission. Volunteers are required to report whether a person was at home to receive their meal and their condition. Often, those volunteers are the only people the customers interact with every day.

"Even today, we had an ambulance dispatched out to someone that had fallen overnight," Pelot said. 

Chuck and Machel Shrader have volunteered now for eight months, delivering meals on their route twice a month. 

"They may not need the food, but they may not eat if they don't have a meal sent to them," Chuck said. "Knowing that somebody is going to show up at the door just means so much to them." 

The Shraders stay and chat with the clients when they deliver meals. 

"This is such a blessing," Machel said. 

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