ROGERSVILLE — The demand for Rogersville’s Senior Meals Program is outweighing its resources, which is why the Of One Accord ministry is asking the community to support its Adopt a Senior program.
For a contribution of $6 per day, $30 per week or $126 per month, you can ensure that one disabled senior in the area receives one hot meal prepared at the ministry’s Shepherd Center and delivered by a volunteer Monday through Friday.
The program is stretching its available funding with 20 clients, and the waiting list to get on a meal delivery route can be lengthy.
How long is the waiting list?
Senior Meals Program (SMP) Director Rita Jones said she has 13 people waiting to be added to the program.
The next person eligible to be added to the delivery route has been on the waiting list for more than a year.
However, the size of the waiting list doesn’t reflect the magnitude of the demand.
Jones told the Times News Wednesday that she receives multiple calls every week on behalf of disabled seniors who need a home-delivered meal, but when they find out how long the wait is, most of the time they don’t bother signing up.
“I’ve got a lady who has been on my waiting list for over a year, who is next in line, and she really needs it,” Jones said.
Who is eligible for the Senior Meals Program?
Clients are generally senior citizens, disabled, economically disadvantaged and living on a fixed income.
Because of funding limitations, SMP tries to stay within a five mile radius of Rogersville.
Jones said she will accept clients who aren’t senior citizens if they are disabled, such as the two blind clients currently receiving meals.
What do SMP clients receive?
On the menu Wednesday were a hamburger steak with mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy, broccoli, applesauce and a roll.
Clients receive one meal per day Monday through Friday.
“I’m not a nutritionist,” Jones said. “I just try to give them a protein, a vegetable or two and some fruit, and a grain. I just try to make it balanced.”
How did this program begin?
SMP is very similar to the Meals on Wheels program, with the exception that Meals on Wheels is federally funded and SMP is not.
In 2005, Rogersville’s Of One Accord received a grant from the Department of Human Services to start the Lunch Box summer feeding program for children as well as the SMP.
Around that same time, the local Meals on Wheels program experienced a federal funding cut and was forced to drop 25 clients, who were picked up by SMP.
Why should you help?
For some clients, the volunteer delivering their meal might be the only person they see all day. It might also be their only opportunity to have a decent meal that day.
Jones said if it weren’t for SMP, she believes many of her clients would end up in a nursing home.
“I had one client who lived to be 103, and actually she was at home until about six weeks before she passed away. We had another client who lived to be 100. We like to think we had something to do with them staying at home.”
Usually people request to be on the SMP route because they either don’t have the resources to provide themselves a good meal every day or, more often, they’re not physically able to prepare it.
“A lot of the elderly people, their family have jobs so they can’t always be there. When our delivery drivers come in, they always do a wellness check, and if there’s anything out of sorts, they’ll tell me and I’ll contact a family member.”
If the Adopt a Senior program is too expensive for some individuals, Jones suggested that groups such as civic organizations, clubs, churches, or Sunday school classes might take on the fundraising challenge.
“It’s something that’s needed”
The delivery man Wednesday was Gene Skelton, who said he enjoys brightening the day of of the people on his route.
“It’s something that’s needed,” Skelton said. “It’s so beautiful to have people who look for other people who they can be of some help to. This is one of those ways that we can help.
“There’s one lady I call on who, throughout the years, not one time has she missed saying thank you. It’s just something about her that does it, but you don’t expect that. It’s just a bonus.”
For more information about how to “Adopt a Senior,” call Jones at (423) 921-8044.