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County to apply for grant to aid Meals on Wheels

By Robin Y. Richardson
Oct. 31, 2012 at 10 p.m.

The Harrison County Commissioners Court approved applying for a Texans Feeding Texans grant to help continue meeting the needs of the county's homebound seniors in the Meals on Wheels program.

"Currently, we have 315 clients (in Harrison County), said Alma Harrison, community services director for Community Services of Northeast Texas, the agency that operates the Meals on Wheels program in Harrison County.

"Last year, we served 90,000 meals. A lot of meals are delivered; however, there are a lot of meals that can still be delivered," she said.

Ms. Harrison said the agency is dependent upon volunteers, donations and contributions. And because they rely on donations, she said they have even sent notes to the homebound seniors that they serve, asking for a suggested $2 contribution.

"If they cannot give that, they will not be denied a meal," she said, noting any homebound senior over the age of 60 is entitled to a meal.

She said the agency receives its funding from the Department of Aging and Disability Services and East Texas Council of Governments.

"These sources give us a set rate for 12 months," she said, adding their contract with ETCOG, however, was cut by $26,000 for the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

She said Harrison County has a senior population of 14,547 people, thus, her agency is asking the county to give 25 cents per this population through the Texas Department of Agriculture's Texans Feeding Texans grant program.

"That's $3,636.75 that we're asking you to contribute as a match," she told the court. "With that, Texans Feeding Texans grant, which is the Department of Agriculture, will assess the whole situation, they contact our funding sources and see what meals they did not cover."

She said the Department of Agriculture will then give a dollar per meal to cover the unfunded meals.

Ms. Harrison noted that the agency has another grant through ETCOG that pays for the congregate sites in Waskom and Marshall.

"Anyone who wants to participate there can come in through the intake," she said, noting they closed the one in Hallsville because only one client was participating.

She said the Marshall site, located at 106 E. Crockett St., services a small group of 19 clients.

"Anyone under the age of 60 is also welcome at our congregate site; they'll just have to pay the full rate," she added.

She said she's pleased with the participation at the Waskom location.

Ms. Harrison said they are very thankful to volunteers who help deliver the meals for the program.

"We have 12 routes here and our volunteers cover about six of those," she said. "We appreciate that."

Ms. Harrison said if the county is awarded the grant it will receive the first amount in February and the other half in August.

She said the meals are purchased from a business in Shreveport and area already pre-cooked. The meals are prepared by a registered dietician and consist of milk, bread, butter and dessert. Ms. Harrison said the meals aren't gourmet, but clients are very appreciative.

"I have personally driven some routes myself," she said. "It's amazing…When you drive away, I just say thank God for what I have. You're the only person that they may see for the day…"

Harrison County Judge Hugh Taylor said because they did not provide for the $3,600 matching requirement for the grant in the budget, they would have to find the money from some other resource.

"I certainly appreciate those volunteers and the churches that recruit volunteers that set aside time and fill spots with volunteers to make sure these routes are covered and meals are delivered homebound. I think it's a great public service. We will support the application. Then, we'll review that next year to see if we wish to do it again," the judge said.



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