Food box program feeds hundreds of seniors in need in Roanoke Valley

Local Office on Aging, Feeding America Southwest Virginia team up for program

By Jessica Jewell - Weekend Anchor / Reporter

ROANOKE, Va. - Two local organizations are teaming up to feed seniors in need with a relatively new program.

The third Tuesday of every month, dozens of volunteers show up at the Local Office on Aging (LOA) to transport hundreds of boxes of food from Feeding America Southwest Virginia to cars for delivery. Each box contains 35 pounds of food with staples like cereal, soups, canned fruits and vegetables, beans and milk.

"We have had to downsize our Meals on Wheels program because of depleting resources, but this is just a way to give back and to help and it's been a great partnership," said Ron Boyd, president and CEO of the LOA.

The Senior Food Box program started last August, sending 100 boxes to low-income seniors in Roanoke, Salem and Craig and Roanoke counties. Now they're up to 450 boxes and demand is still rising.

"By 2030, one in four will be over 65. In this region, we're already there," Boyd said.

Only 100 recipients are LOA clients, so the program allows them to reach far more people in need.

About half the boxes go to people's homes. The rest go to senior housing complexes like Melrose Towers.

"Everybody depends on it," Melrose Towers activity coordinator Barbara James said.

"It helps everybody out. A lot of people, they don't get stuff and they come and they can get the boxes, so it means a lot for them, too," food box recipient George Jones said.

The program gives people food they may not get otherwise.

"When you think of the cost of groceries nowadays, I think that it's important they get some kind of help with that. Usually food stamps is a very meager amount they receive so this helps in a big way," James said.

They hope to keep the program going and growing, but they need funding and volunteers to make that happen.

Volunteers must be able to lift 35 pounds, have a car that can transport boxes and be available for a couple of hours mid-morning to mid-afternoon on the third Tuesday of the month.

Click here to contact the LOA to volunteer.

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