BREVARD COUNTY — A newly established program by the state of Florida called “Meals of Love” is enabling seniors, disabled residents and those under the household of senior responsibility to receive free meals during this time of self-isolation.

The Florida Department of Elder Affairs (DOEA) has partnered with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) and the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) to provide employment while matching the growing needs of the community with meal delivery systems.

Meals of Love is led by Senior Resource Alliance, which oversees senior nonprofits in Orange, Seminole, Osceola and Brevard counties. Similarly, the program is offered to residents in all four counties.

The Soup Shop in Melbourne is the first restaurant to pilot the Meals of Love program, while the Brevard Alzheimer’s Foundation (BAF) offers its employees to deliver meals to residents accepted into the program.

Delivery began on April 10 with 250 meals and has since expanded to a delivery of 500 meals to residents in Brevard County.

“They are so grateful, it’s very rewarding,” said Eileen Mogensen, a delivery driver who works for Joe’s Club, an adult day program by BAF. “It’s nice to have a little conversation with people.”

The Soup Shop is offering a variety of eight to nine soups accompanied with a sandwich or salad. Customers not belonging to the Meals of Love program can still call in an order of soup between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

“We’ve managed to not lay off any employees, and I think it keeps us busy and it secures everyone’s job, and we’re able to help the community as well,” said Julie Shipley, owner of The Soup Shop. “It’s a blessing in many ways.”

As early as 8:45 a.m. each day of the week, delivery drivers from Joe’s Club park on the curb beside The Soup Shop to pick up their orders. The program offers a contact-less delivery, with drivers dropping off a meal at resident’s doors. Residents can get a call to know when their meal is on its way.

“On March 27 we got the grant from the state for $18M,” said Timothy Timmermann, Jr., executive director of BAF. “It was a stimulus to combine FRLA and the DOEA to feed the four counties. Our goal is to deliver 14,000 meals a week, which for Brevard, translates to 3,500 a week.”

Mr. Timmermann said Meals of Love is currently looking to expand delivery from three more restaurants in Brevard once the selected businesses have passed inspection.

BAF staff working from home can answer calls to assist with the application process, which can take up to 20 minutes. Something new to the Foundation is a Spanish line for callers to use.

“The governor and the secretary for the DOEA lowered the barriers and made things so easy for us, as long as we kept our normal protocols,” Mr. Timmermann said. “Stuff that would have taken months to get approved was immediate.”

Disabled adults and seniors can apply online by visiting www.mealsoflove.org or calling (321) 253-4430 (Ext.104 for Spanish). Residents can also apply by texting “Mealsoflove” to 94253.

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