Agencies Starting Snack Pak Program for Seniors
By Florence Gilkeson
Borrowing an idea that helps needy schoolchildren, the Moore County De-partment of Aging is initiating a program to boost weekend nourishment for the aging and the homebound.
The department will host a special event at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Senior Enrichment Center to inaugurate its Snak Pak Pals program. The center is on U.S. 15-501 north of the Pinehurst Traffic Circle and south of Eastwood.
Meals on Wheels of the Sandhills is the co-sponsor.
"As far as we know, this is a first in North Caro-lina," says Charlie Carlton, a member of the Department of Aging Advisory Council and a leader in the Snak Pak Pals program.
Meals on Wheels of the Sandhills and the Moore County Department of Aging presently serve about 200 seniors and homebound residents on weekdays. These meals are available only Monday through Friday, and there is no provision to feed these individuals on weekends.
Under the new program beginning April 16, eligible residents will receive weekend Snak Paks containing such items as juice, cereal, soup, crackers, raisins and pudding.
A report released jointly by Terri Prots, director of the Department of Aging, and Rebecca Listrom, of Meals on Wheels, says Snak Pak Pals is a collaborative effort among their agencies along with the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina at Sandhills, and the BackPack Pals program in the Moore County school system.
The new initiative is structured after the popular BackPack Pals program, which has been operating in the public schools for the past five years. The BackPack Pals program collects food items and distributes them to these children in backpacks on weekends.
Linda Hubbard, who coordinates BackPack Pals for the schools, says that the program does not provide full meals. It provides nutritious snacks to help children through the two days when breakfast and lunch is not available at their schools.
"It does provide a little weekend nourishment," Hubbard says.
Hubbard says the weekend snacks for older residents will be delivered in bags, rather than backpacks. It won't be necessary to return the bags, as is the case with the school program.
BackPack Pals volunteers at the Food Bank have agreed to undertake packing for the seniors and homebound every Thursday after they complete work on the children's backpacks. Sandhills Teen Challenge will be responsible for delivering the Snak Paks to distribution sites. The regular volunteers will distribute the weekend packets on Fridays.
"The Food Bank is very excited about Snak Paks," Carlton says. "They see this as a model for the rest of the state."
Cost of each weekend snack is estimated at $3. The costs will be covered through grants, corporations, private donors and churches, with all of the cash donations directed toward food purchases. There will be no overhead costs.
The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina at Sandhills has agreed to donate all food items for the first month of operation. St. Joseph of the Pines has made a donation, and Sears of Aberdeen will provide the bags.
However, the program will need an additional $20,000 in cash or in-kind food donations to make ends meet for the remainder of the year.
Carlton estimates that the program will cost up to $35,000 in the first year, but he remains confident that churches, organizations and individuals will continue to be generous and will support Snak Paks, just as they have with the popular BackPack program.
Tax-deductible contributions in the form of checks made payable to Meals on Wheels of the Sandhills, marked for Snak Pak Pals, can be mailed to P.O. Box 2083, Southern Pines, NC 28388.
Additional information about Snak Pak Pals is available by calling Terri Prots at the Department of Aging at (910) 215-0900 or Rebecca Listrom at Meals on Wheels at (910) 692-0384.
Contact Florence Gilkeson by e-mail at email@example.com.
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