Meals on Wheels Loses Funding, Gains Waiting List

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The Meals on Wheels program serves millions of meals to elderly shut-ins across America, but the program has had some financial set-backs in Washington County.

The community it pitching-in to make up the shortfall in federal funding.

Otis Ikner has been visiting the Washington County Council on Aging for about 15 years, spending his time exercising, and volunteering with "Meals on Wheels".

"It opened my mind up to people because I was kinda closed-minded a bit." They say 'Oh, I'm so glad you came.' And I say 'How do you like the meal?' They say 'It was great.',” explained Ikner.

Right now, the center delivers food to about 80 senior citizens, but lately things have been rough at the center.

The Council on Aging has lost more than $40,000 in federal funding the past two years, due to smaller census figures. The "Meals on Wheels" program has been hit the hardest.

"We have a waiting list, which we've never had to carry in Washington County,” said Washington County Council on Aging Director Mary Smith. “Your meal, that is a one third RDA approved meal. So we're trying to provide that nutrition in the home."

Having lost so much of their funding, Smith says they have had to stop serving meals at all of their locations besides the one here in Chipley. She says that right now they're not sure if funding will decrease again next year, but says if it does that waiting list for 'Meals on Wheels' will grow.

"With the economy, we're at a point where we cannot go above what we're committed," Smith explained.

Smith said community contributions have really helped.

To Ikner, "Meals on Wheels" provides more than a full stomach.

"They're so thankful and I get such an enjoyment out of it. You strike up a lot of conversation, matter of fact you can't hardly get away," he explained.

There are currently 10 people on that waiting list.

If you would like to donate, you can contact Mary Smith at (850) 638-6216.