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A&E >  Food

GSC Meals on Wheels supplies clients with Blizzard Boxes – 3 days of emergency food

UPDATED: Thu., Jan. 28, 2021

By Nina Culver For The Spokesman-Review

It’s been a while since the Spokane area had a blizzard, but there have been windstorms, heavy rains and other weather events that make getting around difficult.

In the interest of being prepared, the Greater Spokane County Meals on Wheels has put together “Blizzard Boxes” to provide its homebound clients with three days of shelf-stable food that can be eaten if bad weather prevents volunteers from making their regular food deliveries, whether that’s because roads are impassable or lack of power prevents the food from being prepared. The boxes are being delivered this week.

“We have done it for several years,” said GSCMOW Director of Development and Communications Janet Dixon. “This is just in case. If our power goes out, we can’t cook.”

This year students at McDonald Elementary in Spokane Valley decorated 300 boxes. The school reached out because it wanted a way for their students to connect with seniors, Dixon said. In keeping with the “Blizzard Box” name, many students used a lot of snowmen and snowflakes to decorate the boxes. Some wrote messages of support.

“It’s really from the heart,” she said. “One of them did a penguin that is just the cutest thing.”

The box includes canned food with pop top lids so no can opener is required. The food also doesn’t require cooking and includes things like chicken in a pouch and fruit cups. It’s nothing fancy, but it will work in a pinch, Dixon said.

“It’s emergency food supplies,” she said. “It’s not the entrees we would normally give you. We put them inside the box that’s been decorated by a kid, and there’s a card in there from a kid.”

Dixon said the recipients seem to enjoy the decorated boxes. “It gives a smile to our seniors’ faces,” she said. “These boxes are adorable.”

The students decorated 300 boxes this year, which is the same as previous years. Usually that’s enough to make a box for each homebound senior who can’t go shopping and depends on county Meals on Wheels for their food. About 34% of the nonprofit’s clients get their only meal of the day from the organization, Dixon said.

But this year, there are 672 homebound seniors on that list, not 300. Once they ran out of boxes, the emergency food was packed into tote bags donated by Horizon Credit Union, Dixon said.

The big increase in the number of county Meals on Wheels’ clients has been seen across the county as the organization has increased its efforts to reach out to seniors who need meals delivered to their homes during the pandemic.

“We have seen huge increases in rural areas,” Dixon said. “It’s more likely that their power will be out. It’s more likely that the road to them will be closed.”

Clients will be expected to put their Blizzard Boxes away in the cupboard until winter is over. “When spring comes, we just say, ‘Eat that up, and we’ll give you more next year,’ ” Dixon said.

Having a “Blizzard Box” on hand can be reassuring for seniors who might be worried that they won’t have enough food, Dixon said. “It’s a way for us to help,” she said.

The food in the boxes was all donated. The organization is always taking donations of shelf-stable foods and personal care items that can be given to clients who need extra assistance. Donations can be brought to the county Meals on Wheels office at 12101 E. Sprague Ave.

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