Hartselle man cooks meals for community during COVID-19 pandemic
Wayne Jones said he feels at home in the kitchen or behind the grill. The Hartselle man is the youngest of six children and grew up learning how to cook from his mother, Hollie Jones.
“I know nothing about vehicles or electricity but I can take food and make it so inviting that it will bring white people, black people, old people, young people, rich and poor people to one spot and they’ll enjoy it,” Jones said. “That’s my drive and in the food business, if it’s not your passion you might want to go crochet a sweater because you won’t make it.”
Now, Jones is putting that passion to work for his friends and neighbors. He and two friends, Jason and Nancy Nix, and their son Drew, began cooking meals for those who are in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. Jones said it started with 25 meals twice a week but has since more than doubled.
“What we’re doing now started out as 25 people and now we’re feeding 70-80 folks a week,” he said. “After the first couple of weeks, I woke up Saturday morning and had 65 messages on my phone.”
Jones retired from the City of Hartselle in 2007 and said his endeavor would not have gone on as long as it has without community support. He has a fundraiser on Facebook set up to help offset his out-of-pocket cost.
“So far we’ve raised $915 online and $140 donated in person,” Jones said. “You’d be surprised at how many people have donated. $20 goes a long way and can feed a lot of people.”
Along with his friend Jason, Jones hand delivers his homecooked meals twice a week and he said the response has been well worth the money and effort.
“One lady we’ve delivered to was very touched,” he said. “When I went up to her door and handed her plate, she cried. It got to me too because when you can give someone a plate of food and it touches them like that, they really needed that food.”
Jones said all the thanks he needs is seeing people happy and fed. He’s also made a few friends along the way.
“I got people who were strangers a few weeks ago calling me by my first name now,” he said.
Individuals are not the only ones supporting his cause. Jones said Dari Delight in Hartselle heard of his efforts and donated 50 meals to be delivered to those in need. “At $6.50 a meal that’s more than a $300 donation,” he said. “Tyson in Blountsville donated 10 boxes of chicken leg quarters and Wayne’s Farm in Decatur also donated three boxes of chicken.”
Delivering upwards of 75 meals twice a week, Jones said he’ll continue as long as he can afford it. “The only way we can keep going is for the community to continue to support us. We’re so thankful for the support.”