Bee County commissioners learned recently that the meal program, currently coordinated through the Bee Community Action Agency, was strapped for cash and in the red by $66,000.
The court recently approved funding the program through the rest of the budget year but discontinuing after September.
Anna Simo, executive director at the BCAA, told commissioners during a meeting about a month ago that they have been working for months to find the funds to keep the program going but have been unsuccessful.
Fortunately, the Alice Community Action Agency was willing to expand its coverage area to include Bee County.
“I believe we are scheduled to go to the commissioners court Sept. 9,” said Ann Awalt, director of the agency. “We want to make sure the program continues.
“We are coordinating with the BCAA and the funding agencies to make sure the meal service continues to the seniors.”
Paperwork and contracts have not yet been signed. They are also still working out the details of funding and logistics, but she seemed confident they could get the details worked out as she knows just how important these meals are to those receiving them.
“Our service has a large number of seniors and a large number of low-income seniors,” Awalt said. “Folks on low or fixed incomes are hit particularly hard by the rising cost of electricity and increases in prescription costs.”
However, there is also the social aspect to the program that feeds not only the body but the spirit.
“It allows them an opportunity to come together and socialize with other seniors,” she said.
Awalt was at the center in Beeville on Wednesday seeing what all occurs there.
She could hear country music even before she opened the doors.
“When you walked in, you saw rows of seniors line dancing,” she said.
Then there are the homebound.
For those seniors unable to leave their homes, the program ensures not only that they have at least one balanced meal but also that someone is looking in on them.
“For the homebound seniors, it is really important so that these seniors won’t have to go into nursing homes,” she said.
This private, nonprofit agency housed in Alice serves meals to seniors in Brooks, Jim Wells and San Patricio counties. Adding the estimated 170 meals onto their current estimated amount of 800 won’t be a problem, she said.
There still remains some uncertainty though about funding.
“Money for the program was hit particular hard by sequestration,” Awalt said. “Everybody is very uncertain as to what result will come when Congress produces a budget later this year.
“I don’t think anybody in an authority position can ensure things will continue as they are.”
Whatever comes of the funding, Awalt wants to see this program continue.
“I think any time you have a community that has a pretty active network of seniors, I think that speaks highly of that community,” Awalt said. “You can judge a society by how it treats its children and its elderly.”
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.