TERRE HAUTE —
Ruby Jeffers of Terre Haute depends on a hot meal delivered to her home each weekday. She’s had back surgery, so for the past year, she has participated in the nutrition service program of Area 7 Agency on Aging and Disabled.
Kenny Palmer also relies on the home delivery of his hot lunch. His wife died in April, and he has gone through treatment for cancer.
“It’s gonna be better,” Palmer said Tuesday when asked about how he enjoys the meals. He said he recently found out that a medication he takes changed his appetite, so he lost about 50 pounds.
But now that he knows what’s causing his appetite issue, he plans to adjust his diet, and he looks forward to the continued meal delivery from Area 7.
Jeffers and Palmer are among more than 450 senior citizens in west-central Indiana who have received nutrition services through the Area 7 Agency on Aging and Disabled. The program has staff members who deliver meals to homebound older people five days a week. That one-on-one contact allows the volunteer to check on the well-being of the senior, as well.
Thanks to a new $100,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation, another 65 seniors in the six counties served by Area 7 will be added to the program. That’s an 18-percent boost in funding to the $484,000 already budgeted for the home-delivered meals in Clay, Parke, Putnam, Sullivan, Vermillion and Vigo counties.
Walmart market manager Russ Koenig presented the funding on Tuesday to Judith Anderson, board president of the West Central Indiana Economic Development District during a news conference in the West Central Nutrition Site of the Dreiser Square Community Center.
“I think this makes a huge difference,” Anderson said of the grant funding. “We serve so many people. This is going to enable us to do more home deliveries more efficiently.”
Koenig said that Walmart is committed to helping fight hunger in America, and that was the reason that in 2010, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation launched “Fighting Hunger Together” — a $2 billion cash and in-kind commitment through 2015. Last year, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation became the first partners of Feeding America to surpass 1 billion meals donated, he said.
Anderson, who also serves as a Vigo County commissioner, commended Area 7 outreach coordinator Patty Cannoy for writing the grant application to get the funding. Federal funding cuts have forced Area 7 to establish a waiting list for home-delivered meals and to deny service to more senior citizens who want to participate in the site-based meal program.
“For the majority of the seniors on the waiting list, not being able to obtain home-delivered meals adversely affects their ability to remain independent and stay in their own homes,” Anderson said.
Glora Wetnight, assistant director of programs for Area 7, said 69,921 meals were home-delivered five days a week to 450 people last year. Another 102 people were on the waiting list, she said, but grant funding was available only for an additional 65 people.
In addition to the deliveries, Area 7 has multiple congregate sites where seniors and the disabled can go to eat their meals, which must be reserved in advance.
Anyone wanting more information about Area 7 Agency on Aging and Disabled can go online to www.westcentralin.com or call 812-238-1561. Other programs available include preventive health, transportation, adult day services, outreach and in-home services.
Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.