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Meals On Wheels' goal: to maintain level of service
BEAUMONT - by Lauren Huet
Maintain the same level of service, despite cuts in government funding: that's the New Year's goal for Nutrition and Services for Seniors. The non-profit faced federal funding cuts and layoffs in 2013, but they plan to continue delivering 1,100 meals a day to home-bound seniors.
James Anderson says he depends on his daily delivered lunch.
"I checked with my doctor and he told me the best meal to get for my treatment," said Anderson, "he told me to get on the Meals on Wheels, and I been doing this since 2008."
"We got corn, ground meat, beans and carrots," said Anderson, showing the meal an employee placed in his hands moments before. "Keeps my weight up. Extra vitamins and everything else."
This is Yolanda Braggs' eighth year as an employee delivering meals.
"It feels good because sometimes the people, some of them, this is the only hot meal they receive a day," said Braggs.
The Executive Director of Nutrition and Services for Seniors, Elaine Shellenberger, says delivering meals to home-bound seniors is important.
"Without this service," said Shellenberger, "87 percent tell us without this service they would not be able to remain in their own home and be independent."
Shellenberger says the goal this year is to maintain the same level of service. To do that, the non-profit laid off some employees and cut expenses.
"Well, we're part of the sequestration and hopefully that will change some, but I don't think, when it does, that the full funding will ever be restored," said Shellenberger.
Nutrition and Services for Seniors delivers 1,100 meals to home-bound seniors every day. It also serves about 700 meals a day at its senior dining centers.
"Anybody that's 60-years-old can just walk in and have a congregate meal," said Shellenberger.
She hopes to expand the non-profit's services in the future.
"There are more people turning 60 every day," said Shellenberger, "and the needs are going to grow, and the demands are going to grow. So, we would love to be able to meet all those needs."
Meals on Wheels delivers lunch every day. Shellenberger says community support is crucial.
"We live in a generous community that gives, and gives, and gives, and we are so appreciative of all that they've done," said Shellenberger. "I think that because of the community we're able to do what we do."