Barbara Monty – A Great Example of a Servant Leader

Are you like me? I have a bad habit of taking for granted most things happening around me.

When I flip a switch on, I expect a light to go on. I never think about what made that happen.  I set the thermostat in my apartment and never think about what makes the furnace run to maintain the temperature at that level.

Unless we happen to have worked in a particular field, we just take for granted everything we have which makes our lives more convenient. We never think about how they came to be nor the people instrumental in bringing them to us.

One organization most of us take for granted is the Knoxville Knox County Community Action Committee (CAC). We know they are integrally involved in the community. However, we rarely look at the programs they offer and the help they give to people.

If you’re an older person like me, you may be more familiar with the Office on Aging at the CAC. You may have even used some of the services they offer.

Did you ever realize the services the Office on Aging offers did not start out as they are today? They started out small and they grew into what they are today.

The people working at the Office on Aging and the CAC made did this happen. They are the true unsung heroes.

Let me tell you about one of them who is no longer with us . . .

 . . . Barbara Monty.

After starting as a volunteer in 1968, Barbara became a full- time employee of the CAC in 1971. One of her first assignments was to develop a program where meals would be delivered to senior citizens in Knoxville and Knox County.

Barbara became the driving force behind that program. Right then, Barbara realized if the program was to succeed, volunteers would be needed to deliver the meals. At the start on November 1, 1971, 20 meals were delivered.

Since its inception, this meal delivery program has grown. It is now known as the Mobile Meals program. From that first day in 1971 until Barbara retired in 2013, the volunteers had delivered more than 7,300,000 meals.

Mobile Meals

This program continues on today. Here are some things about this program you may not be aware of:

  • Meals are delivered around noon five days every week and holidays.
  • Residents of Knoxville and Knox County are eligible to receive them.
  • People receiving the meals must be at least 60, cannot cook for themselves and have no one to prepare meals for them.

Who are currently receiving meals through this program?

  • More than 60% are over 85 years old. Many are in their 90’s.
  • Most live alone and have no one to help them.
  • One does not have to be poor to receive meals. Those who are able pay a portion or all of the cost of their meals.

Who covers the cost of the meals?

  • As already mentioned, people, who are able to, pay based on their income.
  • The cost of about 303 meals daily is covered by federal and state grants.
  • The cost of about 622 meals is covered by donations from the United Way, individuals like you and me, businesses, churches, civic groups and other organizations in the community.

Here are the statistics on the Mobile Meals program today:

  • Over 925 Meals Delivered Daily
  • 100 Volunteers Deliver the Meals

Barbara’s Efforts After the 2011 Tornado

You may not be aware a tornado hit the site of the Mobile Meals kitchen on June 24, 2011.  Because of the damage to the ceiling and roof, the building was forced to close temporarily 20 days later on July 14.

Barbara was firm that there could be no interruption in the meals being provided daily. So, she looked for temporary alternatives. The first was at the Knoxville Convention Center, Afterwards, it relocated to the old Exhibition and Conference Center. She worked with Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett to get funds to repair the building. That work was completed and the kitchen finally was able to reopen16 months later on November 1, 2012.

Barbara became the director of the Office on Aging in 1977 and remained in that position until her retirement on April 13, 2013.

Barbara Never Rested on Her Accomplishments

Barbara did not sit back in the years after the Mobile Meals program started and expanded.  Whenever she saw a need, she took steps to correct it. When she saw a problem, her goal was to fix it.

During her time at the Office on Aging, she was also responsible for overseeing the development and implementation of 20 other programs. Some of these were:

  • Affordable Medical Options for Seniors (AMOS)
  • Project LIVE (Living Independently through Volunteer Efforts)
  • Volunteer Assisted Transportation (VAT)
  • Grandparents as Parents
  • The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program

If you don’t have a copy of the Senior Service Directory, you probably have seen it. This is a comprehensive directory of services available for older people in Knoxville and Knox County. This directory is published every 2 years. Barbara had the idea for it and oversaw the publishing of the first 17 editions.

The Barbara H. Monty Mobile Meals Kitchen

On August 22, 2018, Barbara’s friends and family gathered at the Mobile Meals Kitchen to honor her.  At that time, the facility was renamed the Barbara H. Monty Mobile Meals Community Kitchen.

While Barbara may have been one of the most well-known people working at the Office on Aging and the CAC, she was just one of the truly dedicated people working there to help make the lives of all people in Knoxville and Knox County better.

Whenever You’re Helped by The Office on Aging or CAC,

. . . take some time to think about the people who were involved. Thank them for their help.


If you have any comments on what you have read in this post, please email them to me. Also – if you have any ideas about subjects you would like to see discussed in future posts, please send me an email and let me know. My email address is