The local chapter of Volunteers of America (VOA) has a plan to ensure that senior citizens don’t run out of food during a snow emergency. VOA is creating Blizzard Boxes, according to Meals Director Al Shonk. “During winter, for our home-bound participants in the three county region we serve, we put together four or five days worth of non-perishable foods.” The Blizzard Boxes contain complete meals that just need to be heated up on a stove or microwave.
Shonk says the Blizzard Boxes include “things you’d find in a grocery store, like canned ravioli or spaghetti and meat balls, things like that.” The program is designed to help VOA’s Meals on Wheels recipients when severe winter storms make driving dangerous or impossible.
The Blizzard Boxes are put together and delivered to VOA’s home-bound clients before the weather gets too bad. “We try to get them out before winter really starts. This year, we’re going to get them out before Dec.1,” Shonk explained. “We’ll get them delivered to everybody, so if something does happen during the winter, they’ll have them if they need them.”
Shonk says it’s easy to qualify for the program. “All they have to do to qualify for the boxes is be part of the Meals on Wheels program, through Volunteers of America—Senior Community Meals. And, to qualify for that, they need to be age sixty or older.” During the application process, VOA does an assessment to determine that applicants are truly home-bound and unable to go grocery shopping on their own. “They have no transportation, and no other way of getting meals delivered to them, so that’s why they’re in the Meals on Wheels program itself.”
Shonk reports that VOA is currently raising money for the Blizzard Boxes. “We’re doing a fund drive to offset some of the costs.
“In the past, we have ordered pre-prepared Blizzard Boxes from a company out of Florida, and they are very expensive. So, last year we asked the community for contributions; we received enough to order 250 of these Blizzard Boxes and put the components together ourselves.”
Last year, VOA raised $2,000 for the program; that was enough to supply the recipients with three days worth of food apiece. This year, they hope to get $2,500 worth of donations, so they can put together boxes with five days worth.
Shonk says the Volunteers of America have been running this program since 2009.
For more information, please call the VOA office in Eckert at 970-835-2670.