The Chattanooga Area Food Bank could have been satisfied with its usual method of food distribution: People in need go to a social service agency or church for a food voucher, then bring it to the food bank for groceries.
But food bank officials decided that really only works for people who have transportation. What about other people who also need the organization's services?
The answer, they decided, was to bring the food to the people.
Last week they made their third visit in six weeks to the Westside high-rises for the elderly. They filled the rooms with food and lined up tables of cantaloupe, watermelon and other produce including cucumbers, bell peppers and potatoes outside the building.
Westside resident Jane Garner said she tore into the fresh produce.
"I got tons of tomatoes. I added them to sandwiches, had tomatoes with salad dressing and put them in salads."
Being able to get fresh food is important, said the 63-year-old diabetic.
"This makes a big difference in the daily outcome of how your diabetes is handled, to keep it under control," said Garner.
Ramen noodles are thrifty, but they can wreak havoc on blood sugar levels, she said.
Westside residents from all eight subsidized housing sites endured smothering heat and humidity to get food.
"Seniors can't get to the grocery store because some of them don't have a way, and they really need those vegetables," said Betty Bishop, a Dogwood Manor Apartments resident.
The Westside community comprises eight federally subsidized apartments, including College Hill Courts, the city's largest public housing site, and three public housing high-rise buildings for the elderly
Eighty-six percent of Westside residents live in poverty, according to city-data.com. Realtor.com says the median household income is less than $9,500 a year. And only 33 percent of residents ages 16 to 64 work, according to the Chattanooga Gang Assessment published in 2012.
The food delivery would not have been possible without cooperation from Dogwood Manor's new resident manager, Trina DeSouza, said resident Adair Darland, who helped coordinate the event. Residents also chipped in to unload the food trucks.
"It's so rewarding for everybody to get food," Darland said.
Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6431.