Funding shortfalls threatened meals for seniors

Published 1:03 pm Thursday, September 18, 2008

Rosa Lee Boswell, a widow who lives alone, takes joy in her daily visit to Troy’s Lillian D. Green Nutrition Center.

“I retired three years ago, and I’ve been coming ever since,” Boswell said. “It’s a life saver for retirees.”

Mullis Stewart is another local senior who said he can’t begin to even count the years and number of meals he’s enjoyed at the nutrition center.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“I don’t know what I’d do without it,” Stewart said.

And though Wednesday was their first day at the nutrition center lunch, Richard and Martha Girdner said they feel at home already.

“I think one of the advantages is a lot of us are by themselves, and this gets people together and they eat,” Richard Girdner said.

Nutrition programs funded mostly by the South Central Alabama Development Commission, provide meals for seniors in both Troy and Brundidge, but rising costs threatened to reduce the number meals served in both cities this year.

Both city councils stepped in and picked up the slack where funding fell short.

“They informed us the cost of meals went up, and the funding had not increased,” said Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford. “The only way they could survive was to reduce the number of meals for the center, so they asked the respective communities to fund the meals if they wanted to.”

Lunsford said for the year close to 2,000 meals could have been cut at the nutrition center in Troy, but an additional $5,000 in city support will be set aside to keep the program as it is.

In Brundidge, the city faced the same story.

At Tuesday’s city council meeting, members approved to allot $2,500 to their nutrition center to keep more than 900 meals from being lost in Brundidge.

Both centers provide meals to seniors by serving lunch in their buildings and delivering food to those who qualify at no cost to the members.

“The benefits are two-fold,” Lunsford said. “The home delivery is an opportunity to get a hot meal delivered for people that don’t have the income or ability to prepare their own meal, and as far as the program on site, it gives an opportunity to get the meal provided and at the same time, offers a wonderful opportunity to get together and socialize.”

Brundidge Mayor Jimmy Ramage said the nutrition center, which has been in Brundidge since the 70s, provides is about much more than just a meal.

“We try to have activities, so they can get out during the day and have fellowship and also get a good square meal,” Ramage said. “But, the fellowship is just as important as the meal.”

For Troy senior Charlie Tillery, he couldn’t agree more.

“I’ve been coming here since day one,” Tillery said. “I love the whole program. It brings people together. We play dominoes, meet friends, and just sit and talk.”