By Burton Speakman
A North Jackson company is prepared to help the growing number of seniors eat healthful meals.
The idea for the business came when company president and part owner Rick Anderson son’s were playing youth hockey, he said. “My wife would make a casserole and put it in the fridge. After a while, the whole team was coming over and eating from that.”
The thought was that there might be a market for fresh food that people could heat up quickly at home, he said.
The North Jackson facility is the company’s second. Mom’s Meals initially opened in Ankeny, Iowa, and expanded to the Youngstown area to help better serve the majority of its customers who reside east of the Mississippi River,
Anderson said. The former Heather Creek location was chosen due to proximity to customers, there already were trained employees and the facility was U.S. Department of Agriculture certified.
Mom’s Meals makes 40,000 meals per day in North Jackson but has the capability to expand to 250,000, he said.
“We have 55 employees at the factory and another 45 at our distribution center,” Anderson said. “We’re just gearing up.”
One of the employees has returned to the Youngstown area after leaving in 1978.
Mark Paskey left the Mahoning Valley to join the Air Force, and from there he joined the sheriff’s office in Arapahoe County, Colo.
“I left the area because of the job situation,” said Paskey. “Now it seems like the Valley is coming back to life.”
He came back to the area recently after retiring from the sheriff’s office and his daughter had graduated high school. They inherited his father’s home in the Canfield area.
“I always like to cook a little,” Paskey said. “My father taught me how to make the sauces, sausages and breads.”
Things just fell into place when Mom’s Meals opened and positions became available.
The location in North Jackson allows 50 percent of the company’s eastern customers to receive their meals the next day, said Kevin O’Rourke, chief operating officer. The company serves 20 percent of its customers using its own vehicles and an additional 15 percent using other small carriers.
“As the company expands, it will take four to five facilities to cover the entire United States,” he said.
The goal is to get closer to all customers as the market allows, O’Rourke said.
All meals are designed by a chef at the Central Iowa facility so they look good, meet nutritional guidelines and taste good, said Michael Anderson, vice president of development, and Rick’s son.
One of the growing markets for the meals are patients who are recovering from major medical procedures, Rick Anderson said. The doctors have them order these meals because making sure the patients eat right will help them with their recovery.
All food made by Mom’s Meals is heart-healthy, diabetic friendly and low sodium, Anderson said. In addition, the food is never frozen; it is prepared fresh and cooled quickly, and oxygen is removed to allow it to remain fresh for at least 18 days if refrigerated.