From the large multi-burner gas stove and grill, two warming ovens, bread dough mixer, small mixer, blender and waffle iron, the industrial-grade kitchen located in the Orderville Senior Center typically provides between 135-150 Meals On Wheels three days a week – Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, with some major holiday exceptions.
Starting out as a driver 11 years ago, Utah-native Tina Hardy (born, Tisdale) worked her way up to Assistant Director of Senior Citizens’ Services, supervising Long Valley activities, under Director Jerica Bauer, who is based at the Kanab Center. Tina’s cooking day schedule begins alone in the wee hours between 5-5:30 a.m. Help arrives later in the persons of drivers Wally Gibson and Winona Burnitt for the purpose of assembling the meal trays containing the main courses (ham, beef, chicken, pork roast and fish in January), potatoes, rice or veggies, salads and desserts. The usual fare consists of five individual items.
While Tuesdays and Thursdays can be occupied receiving supply deliveries, Tuesdays are exclusively devoted to Tina’s baking preparation day. She plans her own personally “picked” menu on a required three-month basis, which by law must comprise a well-balanced diet of fruit, vegetable, grain (roll, muffin, cookie) and protein submitted for state approval in advance. Kane County gets reimbursed for the nourishment expenses, but it covers our local employees’ wages.
Around 9:30, Kanab delivery driver Jack Clark collects the 55-66 meals, which will take him about four hours to distribute. While they’re on their appointed rounds, Tina handles clean-up duties, often accompanied by her husband Scott, who usually assists with salad and fruit preparation.
Likewise, when Wally heads north to Alton, Lydia’s Canyon and Glendale around 10:30. Same then, when Nona sets out to Mount Carmel and returns to Orderville. While they’re on their appointed rounds, Tina handles clean-up duties.
“Most people like to get a hot meal,” says Tina affably. “We really try to do a home-cooked meal, you know, not something that’s a prefab.”
And from the observations of this reporter while accompanying Mr. Gibson on his route, that’s a much-appreciated sentiment!