TULSA, Okla. — Meals on Wheels of Metro Tulsa is just under a month away from opening its new multi-million dollar facility and invited 2 News Oklahoma for a first look inside.
With a new CEO and a new home base, the non-profit also has a renewed goal of serving our community.
Meals on Wheels of Metro Tulsa got its start with a group of volunteers. In 1970, a group of parishioners at First Presbyterian Church in downtown Tulsa started delivering meals to homebound seniors. The organization has relocated and grown since then and is now undergoing its most significant transformation yet.
"This new facility is taking us to four times the size of the facility that we have been in for the past 30 years," says Katie Oatsvall, CEO of MOWMT.
The non-profit's new space is named the Hardesty Service Center. It's located at 5151 South Darlington Ave, next to the Tandy YMCA.
It's a 30,000-square-foot building and at the heart of it is an 8,500-square-foot kitchen.
"It's positioning us to deliver more than 1 million meals annually. The timing couldn't be more perfect as our population continues to age, and we are happy to be able to be at the forefront of that," says Oatsvall.
Around 1600 meals will be cooked and distributed from the new facility weekly. Efficiency here is critical. "To move as quickly as we can and into the homes of the people who need it," says Oatsvall.
The kitchen, designed by a Tulsa company, features a circular workflow that takes you from the loading dock through the spacious freezers, past the oven to massive kettles. "80-quart tilt kettles, they give us a ton of space and efficiency to do vegetables, noodles, pot pie filling," says Oatsvall.
And this big new space comes with a big call for help. Meals on Wheels of Metro Tulsa needs more volunteers.
"We do our best to be more than a meal. To do wellness checks and visit with our clients to make sure that they have everything from food all the way to other community connections," says Oatsvall.
So, in addition to delivery drivers, Meals on Wheels also needs volunteers for its home and pet programs. Cheri and Jack Goodman have been helping with these programs since the start of the pandemic.
"We do PAWS which is their dog food program, we mow lawns, and then they have a health and safety program, and we've done things like for the doorbell and smoke alarms and different things like that," says Cheri Goodman. Her husband Jack adds, "I just want to encourage anybody out there that you will have such great joy when you go out and help somebody."
Meals on Wheels volunteer delivery driver Dixie Banner agrees. "It's easy to volunteer each week, and it's only an hour of time. I feel I get more as a volunteer interacting with a recipient than they will ever know. I get a lot," says Dixie Banner.
To learn more about volunteer opportunities, click here.
The ribbon cutting for the Hardesty Service Center is scheduled for September 22, 2002.