Friday, March 22, 2013

TOP STORY >> Cabot mayor delivers meals to seniors

Leader staff writer

Cabot Mayor Bill Cypert surprised several seniors at their homes on Wednesday by helping to deliver hot lunches during the Meals on Wheel’s Mayors for Meals national campaign to raise awareness about senior hunger.

The Cabot Senior Center delivers meals to 33 seniors with 22 delivered a hot meal Monday through Friday and 11 receiving one two-week supply of frozen meals.

The program, which is facing cutbacks, provides seniors with one-third of their daily nutritional requirements.

Cypert delivered about a dozen meals and stopped to chat with seniors, who were happy to see him.

The meals are cooked at the Lonoke County Council on Aging in Lonoke and transported to senior centers in Cabot, Lonoke, England and Carlisle. The meals are then delivered to residents.

The Cabot Meals on Wheels program is for residents 60-years-old or older who are physically homebound or taking care of their spouse who is homebound, incapacitated or battling an illness such as Alzheimer’s disease.

The Cabot program is donation based. “If they want to pay, they can,” site director Cherry Godwin said.

She said it is not a welfare program. It is supported by the Lonoke County Council on Aging.

The Meals on Wheels programs helps older adults stay at home a little longer and keeps them living independently as long as possible. The senior center holds fundraisers to help support the program.

For people who can get out, but do not have transportation, the senior center has a bus to pick up seniors at their home and bring them to the center for a meal and to socialize.

The Cabot meals route is 17 miles and takes a little over an hour. The meals are kept hot in warmers during transport.

Driver Joe Burton is a welcome sight for many of the seniors. They will call the senior center if he is running late.

“It is nice. Joe’s been really nice. The food is fine. Some days I wouldn’t have fixed anything if it weren’t for them,” Maudie Evans said about the program.

“It is a very good program. It helps out a lot,” Joseph Mato said.

He is able to heat up his wife’s meal when she is ready to eat.

“We enjoy our meal. It saves me a lot of time and energy and they are good,” Jean Pharr said.

Federal sequestration has not affected the program yet, but there will mostly likely be cuts to the program, according to council director Sharon Anderson.

She said no specific program has been cut, but the council is looking at a 5 percent cut of federal funding across the board, in addition to state cuts.

Anderson wants the council to be able to maintain the current level of residents on the meals program and not drop anyone from the service.

She said it is a wait-and-see situation.

The council is reimbursed $4.75 per meal, per day by the federal government. The money is used for food, labor, and fuel expenses.

The Cabot Senior Center needs volunteers, but not for deliveries.

Godwin said it would be helpful if volunteers could help out at least one day a week picking the meals up from Lonoke.

For more information about the program in Cabot, call the senior center at 501-843-2196.