The Fulton County Senior Center will add another hotbox truck to its fleet of meal delivery vehicles, thanks to a Community Development Block Grant.
A 2021 Chevrolet Colorado truck, purchased from Dave White Chevrolet in Sylvania, is currently being customized by Delivery Concepts of Elkhart, Ind. to store hot and cold meals, according to Sheri Rychener, Senior Center director.
She said the truck will join two other hotbox trucks and multiple private vehicles that together deliver 600 meals daily to the homes of senior citizens across Fulton County.
“With continued growth expected, we need to have access to vehicles that can transport our meals safely,” Rychener said.
The truck and accessories are being purchased through a $52,600 Ohio CDBG grant that was awarded in May, said Christina Deehr, Maumee Valley Planning Organization regional planner. The grant was issued through a branch of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a stimulus bill approved by Congress and signed into law by former President Donald Trump in March of 2020.
The senior center was eligible for the grant because it serves elderly persons, originally in response to COVID-19.
Fulton County Commissioners on Tuesday approved the truck purchase and its customization. The modified truck will have a hotbox attached to its bed that comes with oven and refrigerator options to maintain safe food temperatures as meals are transported around the county. Each of the 12 daily meal routes take about three hours to complete.
The blast chiller will cost $6,799; the truck, $37,860; and the hotbox $21,295.70. The senior center will provide the additional $13,354.70 in cost to the project over the amount of the grant.
Deerh said an attempt was made to purchase the truck from a county dealership “but it’s just so hard to find a new truck right now.” Otherwise, she said, the truck would have to have been ordered, delaying its delivery to the senior center.
Delivery Concepts has until mid-February to deliver the fully-customized truck, although “It would be wonderful if they could have it before then,” Deehr added.
The senior center also utilizes two other hotbox trucks within its meal routes, but they are now about 10 years old and require continued maintenance and service, Rychener said. The new hotbox truck “is going to be a great addition to our fleet, for sure,” she said.
It’s an important addition as the number of senior citizens requesting home meal delivery in the county continues to grow, Rychener added. The truck will cover one of the dozen routes, and may periodically switch to cover other routes according to need.
The hotbox truck can also be used as a drive-through at offsite locations for certain programs. Three hundred meals can be served at one time directly from the vehicle, something “we’re not able to do in our current facility,” Rychener said.
She said it’s hoped in the future that more hotbox trucks can be added to the fleet to replace the aging vehicles.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.