Seniors Receive Emergency Meal Kits

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By Ed Offley

With the 2024 hurricane season underway, Florida Power & Light and the Bay County Council on Aging have ensured that several hundred seniors are prepared in event a storm disrupts their ability to obtain food.

Senior Meal Kit Distribution Bay CountyThe utility and the seniors organization handed out over 2,200 emergency meal kits to seniors at the Panama City office of the Council on Aging on June 11. In addition, each senior received $40 worth of coupons for buying food at local farmers’ markets.

“Each eligible person received three meal kits,” said Shane Boyett. Senior external affairs manager for Florida Power & Light. Any county resident over the age of 65 qualifies for the program.

The meals are targeted for local seniors who might not be able to leave their homes or receive home-delivered meals post-storm. Boyett said the meal kits will help ensure that they are equipped with vital supplies, including three days of shelf-stable, nutritious food, water, snacks and a storm preparation guide.

More than 150 residents attended the distribution, but many were there to obtain meal kits for neighbors and family members who could not attend, Boyett said. About 400 seniors in all received the kits.

This year marks the third annual distribution of the meal kits since the merger of Gulf Power and Florida Power & Light in 2019, Boyett said. The program has run in other parts of the state for the last decade, he said.

The farmers’ market coupons were provided by the state Department of Elder Affairs, said Council on Aging executive Andrea Marsh. “The purpose is for them to be able to buy fresh produce for $40,” Marsh told WJHG. “It’s a lot for seniors who are living on limited incomes, and… makes a big difference to their shopping budget.”

Boyett said he was impressed with the popularity of the hurricane meals program. “People were lined up around the block as early as 6:00 a.m. for the event that began at 8:00,” he said.