Money could run out in three weeks

Published: Thursday, January 2, 2014 at 09:45 AM.

Brady said the program goes beyond providing free, nutritious meals for seniors. He said the socializing that seniors do when they come together for the lunches helps their mental health as well.

“The congregate meals program is also a way for the seniors to congregate and socialize,” he said. “The majority of the seniors live alone and they have no contact whatsoever. This is a way that they have human contact. When seniors have that socialization and contact, they seem to be happier, healthier, and they’re not getting depressed and it’s keeping them out of the nursing home, so it’s saving the government a lot of money by providing the congregate meals.

“The philosophy of the Older Americans Act basically states that the key to the congregate meals is to provide a place for seniors to socialize. We’re trying to keep them happy and socializing and give them a nutritious meal, the things they deserve as senior citizens.”

Brady said for some seniors, the free lunches help them get by financially.

“If we do not get funds into this facility to continue the congregate meals program, there are going to be seniors that are going to have to be making choices again between buying food or buying medicine,” he said.

The county last year cut funding for senior meals in Havelock and Harlowe, with some officials saying tax money should not be used just to allow seniors to socialize. Those seniors who qualified under new federal income guidelines were allowed to continue with the program but were told they would have to drive to New Bern to receive the free meals.

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