Meals on Wheels enlists help of familiar faces to raise awarenes - Alabamas13.com WVTM-TV Birmingham, AL

Meals on Wheels enlists help of familiar faces to raise awareness

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City Councilor Gary Allen delivers a meal City Councilor Gary Allen delivers a meal
City Councilor Jerry "Pops" Barnes delivers a meal City Councilor Jerry "Pops" Barnes delivers a meal
This week the local Meals on Wheels program is enlisting the help of some familiar faces to raise awareness in the wake of budget cuts.

In October, $200,000 in funding was cut from the Direct Service Corporation, the parent organization of local Meals on Wheels. After struggling to stay afloat, program coordinators are hoping some big names in the community like city councilors and local congressmen will help bring about change.

Meals on Wheels recipients are united in their plea to improve funding for the program. Theresia Kinsman says, "I would have a hard time cooking because I'm crippled up, I'm handicapped, and it's just wonderful to get the meals. It helps us a whole, whole lot."

Nora Thomas adds, "Hot Meals on Wheels means a lot to me. I thank God for the hot meals, and I don't want them to be quit, please."

Since the budget cuts, Meals on Wheels has had to close their donation centers on Fridays, and halt some services. Kim Prescott says, "For a time we weren't serving home delivered meals in our counties on Fridays either, so it's been a rough process."

More than 200 elderly locals are currently on the waiting list to get meals each day, but the program just can't support them. That's why Direct Service is enlisting the help of city council members like Gary Allen and Jerry "Pops" Barnes, state and federal lawmakers, and News 3 personalities like Deidre Johnson to put a face to the need.

"Here in Columbus, Ga. there are many seniors that this is the only meal a day they get, only nutritious meal also that they will get," says Barnes. "Secondly it's the socialization element. They're getting an opportunity to interchange with people and to talk."

Barnes says he's going to bring the issue before City Council in hopes of raising awareness and bringing volunteers into the program. Prescott says that's exactly the kind of help they need.

"Other than the community being involved, we need their help as well to survive, to keep Meals on Wheels going for these elderly people," says Prescott. She hopes the lawmakers can see firsthand how much need there is in the community and fight for funding on the state and federal levels.

You can help Meals on Wheels also. To donate, make checks payable to Direct Service Corporation.
The address is:
1500 2nd Ave
Columbus, GA 31901

If you know of someone in need of home-delivered meals, call the Area Agency on Aging at 1(800) 615-4379 or (706) 256-2900.

Congressman Sanford Bishop will be hand-delivering meals Thursday.
Friday our own Sarah Panko, Phil Scoggins and Teresa Whitaker will spend the morning delivering meals.

Jessi Mitchell

Jessi joined the WRBL news team in October 2012 after working as a freelance production assistant for MTV Networks in Los Angeles.
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