Meals for senior citizens cut

Published 12:07 am Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The South Alabama Regional Council on Aging (SARCOA) notified municipalities in Covington County last week that it will reduce the number of meals it funds for senior citizens here by 220 per week, effective Oct. 6.

In a letter dated Sept. 25, SARCOA executive director Robert Crowder said the cuts are necessary because of reduced funding and 6 percent and 8 percent increases in meal costs for budget years 2009 and 2010.

“This meal increase is due to huge increases in food costs and the cost to transport the meals,” the letter stated.

Dwight Mikel, director of leisure services for the city of Andalusia, said at this point he has no choice but accept the 150-per-week reduction in the number of meals served.

“We have an option of picking up the difference,” Mikel said. “But right now, our budget is in limbo. We were notified for this in a phone call on Sept. 24 and there is an Oct. 6 implementation. That’s short notice for a major change.”

Mikel said the decision was made with the knowledge of both outgoing Mayor Jerry Andrews and incoming Mayor Earl Johnson. It would cost $15,559 per year for the city to pick up the tab for the meals that have been cut.

Mikel said the program is designed to provide senior citizens with nutritional meals and to give them social interaction. Some seniors eat at the adult activity center on Church Street, while those who are unable to visit the center have meals delivered to their homes.

It fell to members of his department to determine who will continue to be served, Mikel said.

“We tried to look at who had the financial wherewithal, the physical ability to get out and socialize, and the ability of families to help them,” he said.

In Florala, SARCOA reduced the number of meals served by 60 per week, from 185 to 125.

Lykeshia Anderson, city clerk, said, “We just can’t pick (the cost) up. I don’t know where we could get that money from.”

In Opp, the number of meals is being cut by 10 per week to 195. Opp City Clerk Connie Smith, said the city has just received the information and the mayor has not yet reviewed it.

“No decision has been made yet,” she said.