Things are getting pretty chilly at North Area Meals on Wheels.
That's thanks to a brand-new walk-in freezer, purchased by the organization with a grant procured by State Sen. John DeFrancisco.
"Sen. DeFrancisco got us $15,000," said Donna Barrett, executive director of NAMOW.
The senator was able to get the money for NAMOW thanks in part to the efforts of Ed Reilly, who works at NAMOW's office, and Jim Baker, a member of the board of directors. Reilly filled out all of the paperwork and applications for the grant, and Baker designed the layout of the freezer the facility would need.
Before the new freezer was installed, NAMOW lacked adequate storage space.
"We had a small walk-in refrigerator and a very small freezer," Barrett said. "We never had enough space to hold perishable items."
As a result, foods and items that were donated spoiled before they could be used and had to be thrown out. The lack of storage space also meant that volunteers couldn't make foods ahead of time; they had to make things like salads and desserts the morning before they were to be sent out, meaning they couldn't help with other tasks around the facility.
Now, thanks to the new, 14-by-nine-foot freezer, NAMOW was able to convert their old freezer into another refrigerator. They can store donated bread in the freezer, which keeps it from spoiling. And volunteers can make items ahead of time, giving them time to help out with other tasks in the mornings before the meals go out.
"This is ideal," Barrett said. "We're able to store so much more, and we're not throwing anything out the way we used to. It allows us to make meals in advance. We're not strapped for space."
While the freezer definitely satisfies a need, NAMOW still has other requirements.
"We desperately need a new meat slicer," Barrett said. "We do have one, but it doesn't work. We've been pricing them -- they run from about $1,600 to $2,000. They're pretty expensive, so if we could get one donated, it would be a big help to us."