By SEAN ROWLEY
TAHLEQUAH — firstname.lastname@example.org
For some seniors in Cherokee County, sitting down to a healthy, home-cooked meal can be difficult.
Some may have limited mobility; others might have budget issues. But all have an ally in the Senior Nutrition Program.
“We feed about 70 people every day,” said Dawn Carpenter of SAC Nutrition. “Our goal is to provide nutritional assistance and support to people 60 and over in the area. About 80 percent of our funding is federal, and the rest comes from the state. We do receive some assistance from the Transitional Aid to Needy Families Program.”
The program operates at the Tahlequah Senior Citizens Center and is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“There is quite a big need in this area,” Carpenter said. “If not for us, there are a lot of people who wouldn’t have much to eat.”
Through Medicaid programs, the Senior Nutrition Program is also able to deliver meals around the county. A dietician prepares all menus and anyone age 60 or older can receive a meal.
“We ask for a $1.50 donation to help offset costs, but we never turn anybody away whether they can pay or not,” Carpenter said. “We have a van with a ramp, so we can help seniors out in the community who may have trouble traveling. If they need to make a doctor or hair appointment on the way home, we can help with that.”
In addition to providing meals, the Senior Nutrition Program also organizes activities for patrons.
“We keep a calendar with plenty of activities,” Carpenter said. “Our diners wanted to take a virtual trip to Mexico, so we are having our Fiesta De Mexico celebration Sept. 26.”
On Sept. 13, a Senior Art Show will open at 9:30 a.m. at the Tahlequah Senior Citizens Center.
“It is really an anything-goes art show,” Carpenter said. “There will be arts, crafts and pairings, but there will also be quilts. And one of the ladies plans to try her hand at cooking.”
While the program has three people preparing meals and four drivers, only three volunteers are on staff.
“We absolutely need volunteers,” Carpenter said. “We need help with housekeeping duties, taking meals out. They will make things neat, tidy and safe and keep everyone as happy as possible.”
For information or to volunteer for the Senior Nutrition Program, call Carpenter at (918) 456-0792.