HAMLET — Many Richmond County seniors on Tuesday received a fresh-cooked fried fish plate for lunch courtesy of a local food truck.
Kendale and Johnny Robinson cooked up more than 200 plates for Richmond County Aging Services from their mobile Seafoodie truck in the parking lot of their future stationary restaurant on Raleigh Street.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent social distancing regulations hit in March, those who generally go to the county’s senior centers haven’t been able to, according to Judy Whitley of the Ellerbe Senior Center.
“We’ve always delivered meals to the homebound people, but our congregate had been cut down to one day a week, one hot meal and (a) five-day box of food,” Whitley said, adding that while they can’t come in to eat, the senior centers provide a drive-thru service.
Within the past two weeks, they’ve been able to increase to three hot meals and a two-day box.
“You get more hot food fresher,” Whitley said. “It gets them out of the house a little bit more.
Kendale Robinson said when he was to provide discounts for Alzheimer’s Awareness Month in October, Aging Services staff told him about the cuts in services they’ve had to make because of the pandemic.
“I said, ‘We can take it step further. We’ll actually go ahead and prepare the meals and we can have them sent out to the clients that way,’” Robinson recalled. “We believe in giving back to a community that’s given so much to us.”
Robinson and his brother grew up in Dobbins Heights. They started Seafoodie in Durham and started coming back home in June and the food truck has become popular — with plans to open the restaurant next summer.
He said their father not only instilled a sense of entrepreneurship, but at the same time, a sense of community and responsibility.
“It’s so important that we take care of our seniors,” he said, especially near Veterans Day and during the pandemic.
“They’re the hardest hit demographic,” Robinson continued. “We need to make sure we’re doing as much as we can to support them.”
Those who are homebound, as usual, had their plates delivered, while those who eat at the centers stopped by to pick up their plates, forming a line around the building as the Robinsons put together the plates.
Whitley said 32 from the Ellerbe Senior Center made the drive to Hamlet.
“He has been phenomenal to donate all this food to help feed our seniors in Richmond County,” Whitley said.
Kim Partin, nutrition director for RCAS, said the seniors who received the Meals on Wheels deliveries were excited to get the fish plates.
At least two seniors sent back “Thank You” cards to the Robinsons.
“It’s wonderful to have community support,” said Johnny Harrington, who usually goes to the East Rockingham Senior Center, as he waited on his plates.
Meals on Wheels currently has six volunteers, but could use more, Partin said. Luckily, she added, they didn’t lose any due to the pandemic.
Delivery volunteers are furnished with face masks and hand sanitizer.
As for Seafoodie’s participation, Robinson said this may be the first time, but it won’t be the last.
“It’s something we’ll continue to do, everywhere we see a need.”