Following relocation in November to a new facility, North Port Meals on Wheels held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday.
The event celebrated the finished expansion of its kitchen at Biscayne Plaza on the corner of Tamiami Trail and South Biscayne Drive.
Inviting the public and members of local government and organizations, Meals on Wheels officers and volunteers showcased the renovations made to appliances and stocks.
With new countertops, refrigerators and stoves, the organization is prepared to keep up with the 18,000 and increasing meals a year.
“We aim to serve a nutritious meal, six days a week, 52 weeks a year, even on holidays, to anyone who is unable to prepare a meal for themselves,” Teddy Repose, kitchen coordinator, said about their mission.
Expanding to 1,250 square feet from the previous 325-square-foot location, the organization decided to make the move last year from Trinity United Methodist Church North Port, where they had been since established in 1971.
“As North Port grows, we must grow too. We expect to serve three times the food, the need keeps growing,” Repose said.
Recently appointed president Frank Miles commented on the growth in need.
“We currently have 91 clients but expect that to double in the near future. With this new kitchen, we have the capability to make all the food needed but we need drivers to help deliver it,” Miles said.
“Drivers deliver meals to clients all over town six days out of the week,” Barbara Chamberlain said, who has been a volunteer and driver with Meals on Wheels for more than 15 years.
Drivers pick up food 10 a.m., Friday through Saturday from the kitchen and chefs and make deliveries on routes till noon.
“From the perspective of the treasurer, I believe the kitchen does an awesome job of creating homemade meals all through grants, donations and volunteering from the community,” said Jackie Rhodes, the current treasurer of the organization.
North Port Meals on Wheels does not receive federal or state funds and is an independently run entity from its counterparts in areas including Port Charlotte and Venice.
“With over 100 volunteers, everyone does it from the goodness of their heart,” Rhodes said.
Major contributors include United Way of South Sarasota County, Publix, the Jeanine and Stephen Marrone Foundation, Loveland Center of Special Needs in Venice and many more, all whom help either through food and money donations or volunteering.
Tuesday is the date for their next fundraising event. At both North Port and Port Charlotte Bocca Lupo Pizza restaurants, portions of all sales made will go to Meals on Wheels.
“Feeding people that need help and that are lesser-fortunate are great things North Port Meals on Wheels does for the community,” Mark Kilcourse said.
To volunteer with North Port Meals on Wheels call 941-426-6331 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, or to receive meals, call Teddy Repose at 941-685-6969.