CEMENT, OK (KSWO) - The pressure is on for Cement's Senior Nutrition Center. If it doesn't keep its meal numbers up it could close by the end of the year.
In order to be eligible for state and federal funding, a nutrition site must provide at least 25 meals per day, including home-delivered meals. Recently the center had only been serving 21 per day, putting them in danger of closing.The Association of South Central Oklahoma Governments held a public meeting Thursday to receive input from the community and provide feedback on ways to solve the problem.
Everyone at the meeting said if the center closes it will be devastating to many people who rely on it as well as and the entire town of Cement. One by one residents expressed their concerns.
"There are so many that do depend upon this. You know we don't have a grocery store and we don't have you know any other restaurants. The only thing we have is a convenience store," said Linda Kawa.
With the closest grocery store being 18 miles away, Kawa is just one of those people who depend on the center for a hot meal.
"You know for those that are homebound and can't get out they really rely on it," said Kawa.
In July, ASCOG notified the center and told them they had to come up with a plan of action to serve more meals. They hired a new site manger two weeks ago and she's already making progress and recently brought their daily meal county up to 26.
"When I first got here, the first day I was here, I got a whole list of names of people that that we needed to contact," said site manager Rhonda Bates.
"It was just fantastic. The major steps the very next day you have three new people that's pretty impressive. And she keeps that going the site will be out of danger," said Jones.
ASCOG representative Ken Jones knows for many people the center is there only hot and healthy meal.
"Some of them will split it up into two meals. They will even though its only enough nutrients for one meal they will bring some potatoes from home put the leftovers into the Couldn't eat here and eat that for supper," said ASCOG Director of Supporter Services Ken Jones.
State Representative for District 65 Scooter Park also showed his support of helping keep the center open.
"I think when we go back to the funding, you know I could be totally wrong, but I still think the funding in place whether it's through DHS even or whatever," said Park.
Park said the worst part is the anxiety these seniors are going through.
"To some this is their only meal each day and we have to make sure that our seniors are taken care off," said Park.
Over the next few weeks ASCOG will monitor the site. If the center serves 25 meals or more, they will remain open, if not they will close effective December 31st because of the policy required by the state. A decision will be determined on December 14 at the Red River Technology Center in Duncan at 6:30 P.M.