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Clayton County Meals on Wheels preparing for annual spaghetti dinner fundraiser

Clayton County Meals on Wheels Advisory Board member Chuck Ware asks a question about the program at a meeting Monday. The board will hold its annual spaghetti dinner fundraiser Nov. 8 at the J. Charley Griswell Senior Center in Jonesboro. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)

Clayton County Meals on Wheels Advisory Board member Chuck Ware asks a question about the program at a meeting Monday. The board will hold its annual spaghetti dinner fundraiser Nov. 8 at the J. Charley Griswell Senior Center in Jonesboro. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)

LAKE CITY — Sophia Loren once reputedly said “Everything you see, I owe to spaghetti.”

Of course, it’s reputed that she also once said “Spaghetti can be eaten most successfully if you inhale it like a vacuum cleaner.”

If you ask the folks on the Clayton County Meals on Wheels Advisory Board, they’ll tell you senior citizens in the county will — like Loren — owe a lot of spaghetti that’s eaten like a vacuum cleaner. That’s because they are getting ready to sell the pasta dish at a spaghetti dinner in an effort to pay for meals to serve to needy residents.

“Any way we can help these people out, we’re going to do it,” said Lake City Mayor Willie Oswalt, an advisory board member. “That’s why we’re doing this dinner.”

The advisory board’s annual spaghetti dinner fundraiser will be held Nov. 8, at 6 p.m., at the J. Charley Griswell Senior Center in Clayton County International Park, 2300 Ga. Highway 138, in Jonesboro. Tickets cost $10 and can be purchased from advisory board members in advance or at the door on the night of the dinner.

Clayton County’s Senior Services Department does not get enough government funding to provide meals to every person in the Meals on Wheels program so money raised by the advisory board covers the balance, said interim senior services Director Tori Strawter.

“We serve more people than we get funds for, so when I say we need you, we really do,” Strawter told advisory board members Monday. “What you do is valuable.”

There is a four-week rotating set of daily menus provided by Project Open Hand, which prepares food for the Meals on Wheels program. The meals must meet nutrition standards put in place by the Atlanta Regional Commission, and each meal costs the program around $3 to provide.

Meals range from oven fried chicken, to barbecue pork chops, to Italian braised beef.

Meals are delivered to 175 residents, and another 75 people come to senior centers to eat their meals, Strawter said. On top of that, there are another 15 people on a waiting list because there are not enough funds to provide them with assistance.

And that is why the advisory board is hoping for a large turnout for the spaghetti dinner.

“This little group — we work our butts off to keep people off the waiting list,” Oswalt said.