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Va. city hustles to ensure Meals on Wheels recipients eat despite fire damage to caterer

Photo by Jay Korff/7News{ }{p}{/p}
Photo by Jay Korff/7News

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Late Tuesday night, the Mayor of Alexandria called Mary Lee Anderson's cell phone.

“The fire department wanted me to let you know about this big fire on Wheeler Avenue. It’s going to impact Meals on Wheels," recalled Anderson.

As it turns out, Jeffrey's Catering - the very company that prepares the food for Meals on Wheels in Alexandria and other communities in Northern Virginia, sustained enough damage that their kitchen can't operate.

“Many of our clients are not even able to answer the door," Anderson said.

Anderson runs Senior Services of Alexandria; the non-profit that coordinates Meals on Wheels for the city's most vulnerable population: nearly 100 elderly, homebound residents who rely on the program to eat.

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“They are living by themselves. They don’t have a family member that’s there to them with cooking and cleaning and the rest of it, " added Anderson.

Anderson's group, in its 56th year, wasn't about to let anyone go hungry for one day. A staffer went grocery shopping on Wednesday to fill the need that same day.

“I texted one of my board members who happens to be the executive director of The View," said Anderson.

For the remainder of the week, and likely for longer, Anderson said The View - a senior residential community in Alexandria - is taking on the critical role of meal preparation. Anderson is very proud of the fact that no one in need has missed a meal despite the damage of Jeffrey's Catering fire.

Anderson concluded, “It’s very typical of Alexandria. Everybody just pitches in and does what they need to do to take care of our vulnerable clients. We don’t have to worry about people being hungry. We have taken care of the immediate need and so we are now working with the division and Jeffrey’s to say what can we do to get back to normal.”

We're told the owner of Jeffrey's Catering is hustling to find another location for meal prep, though it's unclear how long it will take for them to re-open.

As far as the fire, the cause remains under investigation.

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