For over 25 years Carmen Webb has seen first-hand the struggles of our elderly population when it comes to food.
The director of Clay County’s Senior Citizens Center literally saves pennies to make sure none of their clients go without a meal.
Funding cuts are something Webb has to battle to make sure her clients keep receiving meals that they depend on for their survival.
“We service people that have worked their entire lives,” she said. “A lot of these people are now on very strict fixed income and every dollar goes a long way to their survival.”
The center services over 80 clients per day with meals with either home delivery or at the center.
“A lot of our clients depend upon the home delivery,” she said. “They have no transportation and money is really tight with the elderly. These meals provide them with some monetary relief as they have tremendous bills with their prescriptions.”
The Senior Citizen Center staff cooks over 1,300 meals a month for the elderly in Clay County. Three hot meals and two cold meals are provided to clients weekly.
Some of the things on the menu are meat loaf, ham and a variety of vegetables.
Webb and her staff search for various deals on food and rely heavily on entities such as God’s Pantry.
“We watch every dollar,” she said. “We know we can’t waste anything because our clients depend on us so much.”
For example, the center can take $1,000 and make it stretch a long way by finding the lowest prices possible on food and vegetables.
“We are very creative in our spending,” Webb said. “We provide our clients with excellent food every day and we hustle to get the best deals we can.”
Budget cuts is something Webb and her staff has to battle.
“Last year we had a 10% budget cut,” she said. “That equates to a month’s worth of meals. We are doing whatever it takes to keep our elderly fed but it’s really tough with these cuts.”
A big help to the center’s budget is donations of services and money.
For example, Webb says their bookkeeping services are done by a local accounting office at no charge.
“We can’t thank Donna Gray enough for donating her time to us for our bookkeeping,” she said. “That alone would cost of thousands of dollars a year and would force us to cut meals to the elderly. By her doing that it enables us to keep our money going towards feeding our elderly.”
The center is funded by the federal government, state and a small portion from the city and county.
The center also receives sponsorship money as a way of providing meals.
“$45 a month can feed one person five meals a week,” she said. “We have a few people that donate that to us each month to help us provide these services.”
The center also provides services beyond meals. They do house cleaning for the elderly and provide minor home repairs such as mowing lawns, painting and pressure washing. By doing these things it helps the elderly population use their limited funds for healthcare.
“I see people at 60 years of age that our less healthy than what 80-year-olds were 25 years ago,” she said. “They are not physically able to clean their homes or themselves. Some of our clients are really sick and we provide these services.”
The clients are very appreciative of the help provided to them, she added.
“Every single one of our clients appreciate everything we do for them,” Webb said. “The simplest of things bring them so much joy, like having clean sheets on their bed. Things we take for granted because we are healthy are a luxury for our clients. They’re just not physically able to provide for themselves like they used to. Helping our elderly population is truly and eye-opening experience.”
If you would like to help the Clay County Senior Citizens Center, you can contact Webb at 606-598-5754.
“We appreciate any help we receive. Our elderly population is really struggling, and they need as much help as we can provide,” she said.