By Connie Leinbach
Just in time for the holidays, the Senior Nutrition Program has been revived on Ocracoke.
The program, which is conducted by the Albemarle Commission Area Agency on Aging in Hertford, Perquimans County, began delivering hot, home-cooked meals to eight clients on the island.
Audrey Holland, volunteer administrator for the program, was at Gaffer’s Sports Pub on Dec. 14 to train about eight islanders to do the deliveries at lunchtime Monday through Friday.
Gaffer’s, open year-round, is providing the meals, and Jason’s Restaurant is interested in preparing some, too, when they open back up in the spring. Gaffer’s staffers delivered the meals the day after the orientation.
“We’re a home nutrition program and our menus are submitted to a registered dietitian for approval,” Holland said about the program.
Volunteers have to be trained in handling the meals and the protocol of delivering them. One volunteer per day delivers the meals to the clients, and volunteers sign up for whatever they can, she said. There also are some back-up volunteers.
To be eligible to receive meals, persons have to be 60 years of age or older, no longer capable of driving or incapable mentally, medically or physically of preparing their meals.
“We’re open to more clients,” said Elizabeth Dyer, the part-time Hyde County public health nurse, who got the program running again.
While she is the contact person on Ocracoke for both volunteers and clients, her work with the program is voluntary.
Even though volunteer orientation has already been conducted, anyone who wants to volunteer can learn how to do it by accompanying another trained volunteer, Holland said.
The Albemarle Commission funds the program through a variety of sources, Holland said.
While they ask clients to make a donation for each meal, if possible, the agency welcomes donations to help fund the program.
Tax deductible contributions can be sent to the Albemarle Commission Senior Nutrition Program at 512 S. Church St., Hertford, NC 27944. Checks should be notated with “Hyde County” or “Ocracoke” if donors want their donation to go directly to the Ocracoke program. Otherwise, donations go toward the overall Senior Nutrition Program, Holland said.
“Every little bit helps,” Dyer said about donations. “It’s direct help to people on Ocracoke.”
Interested persons should contact Dyer at 252-928-3951 if they want to receive meals or volunteer.
The Area Agency on Aging is the organization mandated under the provisions of the Older American’s Act of 1965 to work on behalf of older adults and their caregivers in 10 northeastern North Carolina’s counties and municipalities. Its mission is to empower senior adults to enhance their quality of life through training, education, mediation, advocacy and coordination of services.