COLCHESTER, Vt.- One group often affected most by winter weather are the elderly. Many of them get meals on wheels because they aren't mobile enough to go to the store. But when snow sometimes halts deliveries – organizers say Blizzard Bags are the solution.
It's like a well-oiled machine. Paper bags are opened, slid down the assembly line, and stuffed with food.
“We're here less than two hours,” said Donna Shepardson.
Shepardson is one of more than 80 volunteers that stuffed 'Blizzard Bags' Sunday.
“We see a lot of the same faces every year,” said Shepardson.
It's an 18 year tradition at the Champlain Valley Agency on Aging or CVAA.
“Every single person receiving Meals on Wheels will get a Blizzard Bag,” said Zoe Hardy, a CVAA Nutritionist.
Hardy says the bags are filled with healthy foods that seniors can save for a time when the weather keeps them inside or stops meals on wheels from delivering.
“But it’s also for emergencies, say somebody went to the hospital, they come home, they have some shelf stable food that they can open up and eat. And it’s all nutritious,” said Hardy.
“I think it’s really important because not all of those seniors have access to get out and get food during the week especially during a storm,” said Shepardson.
Once the Blizzard Bags are full they are packed into cars ready to be delivered to more than 800 seniors in Chittenden, Franklin, Addison, and Grand Isle Counties.
“It’s important that they have some extra food on their shelf,” said Shepardson.
That extra food provides peace of mind for the senior's loved ones.
And volunteers say that's what keeps them coming back every year.
“For the past four years I’ve been doing this, it’s a really fun thing,” said Carolyn Harnois, a volunteer.
“This is my third year doing the blizzard bags and it’s just fun to come out here and pack all this for people,” said Jamieson Barber, a volunteer.
“It’s a lot of fun to see the young people getting involved in it and sticking with it because it’s a good way to give back to the community,” said Shepardson.
And even though roads were icy Sunday morning, organizers say all the volunteers showed up to help!
The Blizzard Bags will be distributed throughout the week.