Stimulus brings meals, company to seniors

COLUMBIA --- The way Frank Johnson sees it, delivering more meals to senior citizens in Barnwell County gives delivery people more chances to check in on people who might not see another person all day.


The area is receiving $148,000 in federal stimulus money for home-delivered and group meals, which area officials say is desperately needed.

"Many times the home-delivered meal, that might be the only outside contact the recipient will have," said Mr. Johnson, the executive director of Generations Unlimited in Barnwell County. Seniors qualify based on criteria such as income and disability.

The center delivers 120 meals a day and serves 30 to 40 to a group that comes to the Barnwell facility. In at least one instance in Jasper County, a staff member delivering a meal might have saved a resident's life.

"We had a case where the woman had fallen," said Rebecca Smith, a client services specialist for the Jasper County Council on Aging. "She had a cane, so the driver could hear her beating on the window. If our driver hadn't been there, God only knows how long she'd have been on the floor."

The $148,000 in extra funding is intended to stretch through fall 2010, according to the state Office on Aging.

By mid-June, the state had received $328 million of its $2.8 billion portion of the federal stimulus package, a report from the comptroller general's office said.

The senior meals cost the government $5.25 to $5.75 each, according to the Fiscal Year 2009-12 State Plan on Aging.

Reach Sarita Chourey at (803) 727-4257 or