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Community Action gets grants for meals

Donations and grants through Meals on Wheels America and AARP are helping keep local seniors fed during the pandemic.

About six weeks ago, Meals on Wheels America offered grants for senior meals, said Washington-Morgan Community Action Executive Director David Brightbill.

“We applied for and received a $15,000 grant,” he said.

He said after they received the grant, they were asked to complete a survey, where they indicated about 100 seniors were still on a waiting list for food assistance. As a result of the survey, Community Action received an email that AARP would provide food boxes for seniors that were on the waiting list, Brightbill said.

“The food boxes contained meals for a month, around 125 meals,” he added. “At the end of last week, we received a pallet-load of 48 boxes.”

He said the boxes contained a variety of shelf-stable food such as pasta, rice, fruit snacks and jambalaya. Directions on how to prepare the food are contained in each box.

Carrie McNamee, director or senior and community services for Community Action, said the boxes are more along the lines of a commodity box.

“They are supposed to cover a month’s worth of meals, with things like beans and noodles,” she explained.

WMCAP is using the $15,000 grant to provide hot lunches for area seniors. They can either get them to-go from congregate sites like the O’Neill Center in Marietta, or they can get them through home delivery.

“We’re applying this week for another $75,000, primarily because we’re pumping out so many meals every day,” Brightbill said.

They are producing 360 meals a day from Marietta, and 500 meals altogether from all sites.

“We lease space at the O’Neill Center and we’ve worked there every day,” Brightbill said. Before the pandemic, they were producing around 200 meals a day in the two counties.

Brightbill said the congregate sites include the O’Neill Center in Marietta, the Carrol Senior Center in New Matamoras, the John Dodge Senior Center in Beverly, the Reicker Building in McConnelsville, and the Layman United Methodist Church. At each of these sites, people ages 60 and over can drive up and receive a hot meal to eat at home.

For the home delivery, the senior must be home bound or have no one to help them with a meal.

“Our meals are designed by a dietitian through Buckeye Hills (Regional Council),” McNamee said. “The lunchtime hot meal is designed specifically around the senior diet, making sure there aren’t too many carbohydrates and they are low in sodium.”

Brightbill said their average cost per delivered meal is $12. The $15,000 grant funded approximately 1,250 meals.

“We’re going to keep going as long as we can,” he said. “Seniors are obviously at high risk. We are delivering to people who can’t normally get out or prepare food. We want to keep this up as long as we can, as I think it’s going to be a while before seniors are comfortable going to congregate sites or to get groceries.”

Michele Newbanks can be reached at mnewbanks@mariettatimes.com.

At a glance:

• Washington-Morgan Community Action received 48 boxes of food from AARP.

• The boxes contained meals for a month, approximately 125 meals.

• WMCAP received a $15,000 grant for senior meals from Meals on Wheels America.

•They will be applying for another $75,000 grant.

•The grants are used to feed local seniors through congregate sites and home delivery.

Source: Washington-Morgan Community Action.

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