POINT PLEASANT — Somewhere in Mason County, a senior citizen is likely going hungry today.
Programs like Meals on Wheels, organized and facilitated by the Mason County Action Group, try to reach as many of those seniors as funding will allow.
But officials say funding is always a challenge.
Renae Riffle, executive director of the Mason County Action Group that sponsors Meals on Wheels and provides meals at local senior centers in Point Pleasant, Hartford and Mason, said this year’s funding is particularly tight with federal and state budget cuts. This means local donations are even more critical to the Meals on Wheels program, which delivers 19,800 meals a year to seniors across Mason County.
With March being National Nutrition Month, workers at Mason County Action Group are getting creative about raising funds for Meals on Wheels and raising awareness about senior hunger. These same workers recently gave up their Saturday to collect donations for the program on Viand Street. Next week is “Community Champions” week, where local officials will help deliver meals to clients.
Riffle said the Meals on Wheels program not only serves a basic need of providing food but a social need. Drivers for Meals on Wheels are sometimes the only person a client sees all day long, and if that driver doesn’t see the client, the Mason County Action Group is alerted and there’s a protocol in place that includes emergency numbers to check on that client’s well being.
Riffle said donations to the program are crucial; even those who receive Meals on Wheels dinners typically donate something (on average $1), though no one is denied a meal because of an inability to pay. Seniors older than 60 who are home bound or cannot get transportation to a local senior center for lunch are eligible for the program. In addition to delivering meals Monday-Friday, those on the program are given emergency, non-perishable meals for days when the trucks can’t run due to weather or holidays. No one is ever left without something to eat and won’t be as long as the money holds out.
For those who wish to make a donation to Meals on Wheels, all money stays local and feeds local senior citizens. Donations can be mailed to the Mason County Action Group, P.O. Box 12, Point Pleasant, WV 25550.