ATLANTA - At 1:30 p.m. every weekday, Keith Lewis, arrives at the Friendship Tower Senior high rise on Northside Drive with boxes full of fresh, hot meals. They're free to any resident who wants one. Joseph Ebster picks one up every afternoon. Like many residents at the independent living center, Ebster said it's his best meal of the day.
"Oh, the meals are delicious. I feel in my heart, really blessed, really thankful," Ebster told FOX 5.
Eighty five percent of the population at Friendship Tower residents are single males. The average monthly income is $780 and meals are not including in their living expenses, according to the director of resident services Karen Ashley.
"Many of them were homeless and don't have a family support system and many of them don't eat well. So, when given the opportunity to get free, hot meals as good as these, oh, it's a blessing," said Ashley.
The non-profit, "I'm a Father F1rst" is the first organization to consistently deliver free, hot meals, according to Ashley. The "Meals of Love" have arrived daily for the last three months. Ashley was disappointed to hear the organization's COVID-19 grant for servicing Friendship Tower will end in a few days.
"I knew coming in that they had a grant due to COVID-19 relief, but I never anticipated it would be such a hit. I'm genuinely saddened because they're such a blessing and people have grown accustomed to them coming," Ashley said after helping residents get their meals Tuesday.
Ashley is busy trying to find a partner to sponsor or at least offset the cost of ordering meals for friendship residents. Meantime, Lewis said "Meals of Love" organizers are trying to find other funding sources since they also deliver 585 daily hot meals to families in the Atlanta Public School District. He hopes something comes through soon so he can keep making the special deliveries.
"I love to see the smiles on the faces on the children and the seniors. They really look forward to it and I know with these hard times and struggles, they could use the hot meals," Lewis said, as he prepared for his next delivery stop.
Organizers said the meals would cost Friendship Tower seniors $10-$12 per serving. If you'd like to help the seniors, contact Karen Ashley at Friendship Tower Senior Highrise at 404-600-4674. If you want to donate directly to the Meals of Love program, visit www.imafatherf1rst.org.
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