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Senior Services preparing to ‘March for Meals’

Special photo
Clayton County Meals on Wheels Care Manager Joy Hutcherson (right) poses with the family of one of the program’s clients during a recent visit. County officials are hoping to highlight the need for additional public support for the program through the national “March For Meals” campaign.

Special photo Clayton County Meals on Wheels Care Manager Joy Hutcherson (right) poses with the family of one of the program’s clients during a recent visit. County officials are hoping to highlight the need for additional public support for the program through the national “March For Meals” campaign.

Clayton County Senior Services officials are hoping to raise public awareness, this month, of the need for donations to support a program designed to provide food to elderly, homebound residents.

Senior Services Director Mary Byrd said it costs approximately $700 to feed one person for a year, through the Meals on Wheels Program. The program operates with volunteers taking food to people who are otherwise not able to leave their homes to buy food, and who do not have anyone else who can bring food to them.

Byrd said the county’s Meals on Wheels program provides food to approximately 200 people per day. She added that the program provided 44,986 meals to seniors throughout 2011.

“We actually have a waiting list of clients who need our assistance, but we can only help so many people because of limited resources,” Byrd explained.

The Meals on Wheels Association of America has designated March as a National Meals on Wheels Month, of sorts, by using this time to hold a “March For Meals” campaign.

Some seniors are not able to get a balanced meal on a daily basis because they are homebound, and relatives and neighbors are not always able to bring them food, the local senior services director explained. She added that Georgia ranks in the top 10, nationally, among states with seniors who do not have access to balanced meals on their own.

She said part of the reason for that ranking is that a growing number of seniors are living alone, rather than moving into an assisted care facility.

“In this tough economy, the food and human contact we provide to seniors in Clayton County is needed more than ever,” said Byrd. “We need the community to support our Meals On Wheels program, not just in March, but throughout the year, by volunteering and making financial donations.”

Senior Services Aging Program Administrator Jamie Carlington added: “We’re always looking for donations. That’s why it’s important for the community to be made aware that this program exists, and that there is a need for additional support.”

Locally, the Clayton County Board of Commissioners is expected to issue a proclamation on March 6, to declare the month as Meals on Wheels Month. Area elected officials are also expected to help county Meals on Wheels volunteers deliver food to elderly residents during the week of March 19.

“We want them to go with us, and see some of the people we are serving, so they can see the great need that exists for this program,” said Byrd.

Carlington said the department prefers financial donations, since food donations can only last a limited period of time before they spoil and become unusable. She said people who want to make a donation to support the Meals on Wheels program can send it by mail, or deliver it by hand, to 877 Battle Creek Road, Jonesboro, Ga. 30236.