Next Step in Establishing Compassionate Community Food Program Needs You

Eight months after 65 community members gathered to discuss the needs of the hungry on the Plateau community, a plan has taken shape, but more people are needed to bring that plan to fruition.

Of all the senior centers in King, Pierce, Thurston and Snohomish counties, the Enumclaw Senior Activity Center remains the only one that still provides a hot meal delivery program for community seniors -- it's done so since 1974 -- but that distinction will end after this year unless the community steps in to help.

According to Senior Center manager Jobyna Nickum, Catholic Community Services of Pierce County that is contracted to provide the delivery program is not going to continue to support it into 2013 and instead opting to provide frozen meals prepared by inmates at Walla Walla Penitentiary. 

While on the surface there is nothing wrong with frozen meals, not every senior has his or her facilities about them to recognize when they are hungry or to physically retrieve the meal from the freezer and reheat it, Nickum said. The hot home meal delivery program was more than about just food -- it was a demonstration in care and compassion that organizers hope to continue through a local food program.

Eight months after 65 members of the community first gathered to discuss the need (read the Patch story), a plan is taking shape under the Neighbors Feeding Neighbors task force that is under the Enumclaw Regional Healthcare Foundation to create that compassionate, local food program to serve the elderly community which, according to Nickum, is at about 14.9 percent in Enumclaw - higher than the national average.

Neighbors Feeding Neighbors aims to be able to provide a hot meal to 50 seniors daily, she said, and now is the time to get people signed up to roll up their sleeves and help.

The task force is hosting a public meeting on Thursday, Oct. 18 at the Enumclaw library from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. for those who'd like to learn more.

In addition to feeding the senior population, Neighbors Feeding Neighbors also aims to feed the community's youth. It has broken into two committees to focus on each population, said Rich Elfers who heads the task force. The youth-focused committee has already launched a successful summer lunch program and continues to look into a backpack program in the near future.

Both efforts require more community manpower. For more information, contact Elfers at richardelfers@clearwire.net, Britt Nelson at britt@plateauoutreach.org or Nickum at jnickum@ci.enumclaw.wa.us.


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