This article appeared in the Winter 2008 issue of Texoma Living!.
By Elizabeth Fulce
It’s hard to accept that one hot meal could be a lifeline. For many Texoma senior adults, however, it is. “One in nine seniors is at risk of going hungry,” said Kathey Scott, executive director of the Tri-County Senior Nutrition Project. “Our mission is to keep that from happening.”
The project serves twelve hundred meals every weekday to seniors living in Grayson, Cooke and Fannin counties. Supported by state and federal funding, Tri-County also relies on individual and corporate donations, along with contributions from the United Way of Grayson and Cooke counties, the commissioners’ courts in all three counties, and several cities. Scott hopes additional funding allows the program to expand to offer evening and weekend meals as well.
From menus planned by a registered dietician, staff and volunteers cook and prepare meals for distribution. While one-quarter are served through fourteen senior centers, nine hundred meals are delivered to clients’ homes by volunteers in the project’s Meals on Wheels program.
For some of the seniors, it is their only meal of the day. For others, the volunteers’ interaction is their only companionship. Often, it is crucial to their remaining independent. “Our volunteers are wonderful,” Scott said. “We’d be lost without them.”
Betsy Markham of Denison first began delivering meals fifteen years ago. In July, her husband, Dudley, retired and joined her on her Wednesday route. He enjoyed it so much that he also works as a substitute on other routes as needed. “We love it because it’s such a blessing to get to know these dear people,” she said. “Meals on Wheels is so vital, and volunteers are always needed.”
Markham’s enthusiasm is contagious. Her friend, Janice Johnson, began driving about ten years ago, shortly after retiring. She and Susan White, both of Denison, work as a team on a Friday route. “Susan and I have been blessed beyond measure, and we are so attached to our people,” Johnson said. “We enjoy taking them extra treats and spending a little time with them.”
Retirees aren’t Tri-County’s only volunteers. Individuals and groups from all ages and backgrounds make time to serve. Area businesses such as Red River Autoplex in Denison are involved as well. Their employees deliver every weekday.
In Pottsboro, an employee from Steve Cook & Co. Realtors drives to Denison each day to pick up meals. Back at the office, volunteers from Cook and the city’s Lions Club, St. John’s Episcopal Church, and State Farm Insurance Agency join forces to deliver meals.
“We do it to help our fellow man,” said George Piper, a realtor. “That’s the beauty of volunteering. With so many of us working together, it isn’t a burden. We all enjoy it. No one should go hungry,” he said. “No one.”
How You Can Help
Tri-County Senior Nutrition Project relies on volunteers and donations to accomplish its mission to help older citizens live healthy, independent lives.
Give your resources. Donation needs and options are varied. Call Tri-County at (903) 786-3351 or (877) 900-3351 for more information.
Give your time. Volunteers are needed in all areas of the program, and opportunities are as unique as the volunteers themselves. Call Tri-County at (903) 786-3351 or (877) 900-3351 for more information.
Give your attention. Tri-County administers the congregate meals and Meals on Wheels programs. However, it does not determine whether a person meets eligibility criteria to receive meal benefits. If you know someone who may need Tri-County’s services, contact either of the following agencies:
- ElderWatch (903) 813-3505 or 1-800-667-8264
- Department of Aging and Disability (DADs) (903) 892-0581