Community Comes Together To Provide ‘Blizzard Box’ To Those In Need

Pictured, from left, Evan Owens, Jamestown Container account manager; Barrie Yochim, Jamestown Meals on Wheels executive director; Reverend Natalie Hanson, pastor of Christ First United Methodist Church; Rev. Dr. Bill Allen, pastor of Bemus Point United Methodist Church; and Nick Fiorella, Jamestown Container account manager.

Meals on Wheels recipients from central and southern Chautauqua County were prepared when weather turned bad last month, thanks to Jamestown Container Companies, Bemus Point United Methodist Church and Christ First United Methodist Church.

Meal recipients were able to count on their “Blizzard Box” emergency meal pack, provided by Jamestown Meals on Wheels. The boxes are provided to Meals on Wheels clients in Chautauqua County, in advance of winter.

Meal recipients served by Jamestown Meals on Wheels put those boxes to use on Dec. 15, when weather conditions prevented the program from delivering meals that day. The boxes consist of a supply of non-perishable meals which don’t rely on refrigeration to keep the meals safe for use.

“We already had the Blizzard Boxes in the hands of our clients before the bad weather happened,” said Barrie Yochim, executive director for Jamestown Meals on Wheels.

This year, as with the previous four years, church congregations from each of the churches assembled the emergency meal packs for the meal recipients of Jamestown Meals on Wheels, Dunkirk-Fredonia Meals on Wheels and Sinclairville 76ers. This year is the fourth that Jamestown Container Companies has donated the specially-produced boxes which hold the contents of the Blizzard Box.

“We couldn’t even consider this project without the effort Jamestown Container Companies made to supply us with the boxes,” Yochim said. “It’s a wonderful example of the community coming forward to help others in need within its community.”

Jamestown Container Companies is a local corrugated packaging company in business since 1956, and celebrated their 60th anniversary last year. Located in Falconer, and with other manufacturing and distribution locations in Buffalo, Niagara Falls, Rochester and Lyons, N.Y., and Macedonia, Ohio, they help local community service organizations with donations of boxes and packaging materials.

“For the fourth year, Jamestown Container Companies has supported the Meals on Wheels organization in the community by donations of boxes, this to help local churches feed the needy during the holiday periods,” according to the company. “The support Jamestown Container Companies provides to organizations like Meals on Wheels is so needed due to all the hardships individuals and families face.”

Yochim said many thanks have to also go to the congregations of the two Methodist churches.

“Once again, the effort of the individuals from each of the churches was overwhelming,” he said. “The quantity and variety of the food that was brought together for each of the emergency boxes greatly exceeds what has been distributed in the past.”

Eight hundred fifty blizzard boxes were assembled by the churches to cover distribution of the boxes to all current Meals on Wheels program recipients in Chautauqua County, plus plan for new meal recipients who started with the meal programs this winter.

“It is an honor and a privilege for us to partner with Meals on Wheels to help provide this source of security for so many of our area residents,” said Charles Hodges, coordinator or mission and outreach for both churches involved. “It is really fun to see everyone dive in and tackle this labor-intensive activity following worship on a Sunday morning. And the boxes provided by Jamestown Container are absolutely perfect for this project.”

Meals on Wheels in Jamestown averages less than one closure per year, Yochim said. Meals on Wheels closed twice last year, but didn’t have to close any of the previous three winters because there was never any threat of poor weather conditions.

“Meals on Wheels thinks long and hard before we ever have to close due to the weather,” Yochim said. “But, we do look out for the safety of our delivery drivers and volunteers, so when the weather is bad enough, we will close so that everyone is safe.”

Yochim said that Jamestown Meals on Wheels has had to plan for supplying emergency meals to more senior citizens than last year — more local senior citizens are receiving daily delivery of Meals on Wheels. Senior citizens can receive a heatable or a cold sandwich meal each day, or both, as needed. Meals on Wheels also provides frozen meals to be used on weekends, in some cases.

The suggested cost for home delivery of one heatable meal and one cold meal is $8.25 per day. For either a heatable or cold meal, the suggested cost is $4.75 per day.

If an individual 60 years old or older can’t pay for meals, or can pay only a small amount, the individual can still get meals. The Chautauqua County Office For the Aging provides Meals on Wheels funding for meals for individuals age 60 and older, if they qualify for the program.

Meals on Wheels can keep its delivery costs low because it utilizes many volunteers who help deliver meals each day. Volunteer delivery routes, called satellite routes, are delivered in Jamestown, Lakewood, Falconer, Celoron and Fluvanna each day. Volunteers deliver more than 80 meals each day for Meals on Wheels. Some Meals on Wheels volunteers are from the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program.

“It’s these volunteers we look out for, when we are making the decision whether to close,’ Yochim said. “These individuals are valuable to us, and we want to make sure they are as safe as possible.”

WCA Hospital prepares meals for Meals on Wheels recipients in southern Chautauqua County from the hospital’s Jones Memorial Health Center kitchen.

Any Chautauqua County senior citizen can receive home meal delivery, if the individual qualifies. Meals on Wheels of the Jamestown Area delivers to the southern half of Chautauqua County.

Sinclairville 76ers provides home-delivered meals to participants in the towns of Charlotte, Cherry Creek, Gerry and Ellington, and in Cassadaga, Stockton and Lily Dale. Dunkirk-Fredonia Meals on Wheels provides home-delivered meals to participants along the Lake Erie lakeshore from Brocton to Silver Creek, including the towns of Hanover and Villenova, and in Forestville.

Meals on Wheels is a United Way Community Partner. Funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency was utilized to pay for the goods in the blizzard boxes.

For more information about Meals on Wheels, call 488-9119.