City execs highlight service to seniors

By Wayne Bryan Published March 23, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: Rusty Hubbard

Benton Mayor David Mattingly prepares to deliver a few meals as part of the March for Meals campaign sponsored by the Meals on Wheels Association of America.

Carolyn Batson will be 80 years old next month, and she lives alone in Arkadelphia. However, each day around noon, she knows she will have a visitor. Last Tuesday, she had two visitors: Arkadelphia Mayor Chuck Hollingshead and James Calhoun,a member of the Arkadelphia Board of Directors.

The visit was from city officials to show their support for the March for Meals campaign going on around the region. Sponsored by the Meals on Wheels Association of America, the visits from community leaders raise the awareness of the seniors in the community and the services available to them.

“The midday meal program is wonderful,” said Cindy Rhodes, site manager of the Arkadelphia Senior Activity Center. “The meals are not about being able to afford food; it is about independence to live at home — a freedom all seniors want.”

Mayors and other community leaders have been taking part in home meal deliveries and other activities this week as part of March for Meals.

In Benton, Mayor David Mattingly said he has been delivering meals to a few of the city’s citizens as part of the campaign for the last three years.

“If I bring the meals, it brings some attention to the program. I’m glad to take part,” Mattingly said. “The thing to remember is that the people at the Benton Senior Activity Center and the Central Arkansas Development Council (CADC) do this all the time. It is such an important mission for the home bound and disabled citizens of the community.”

Rhodes said fresh meals are delivered to local residents every weekend in Arkadelphia.

“We can bring frozen meals before the weekend or a holiday when we are closed,” she said. “We know many of these people have families that care for them and visit with them when they can, but most of the family members work every day. So these meals offer some care and contact without [the person] needing around-the-clock care.”

Mattingly delivered meals in Benton on Wednesday, and Bryant Mayor Jill Dabbs was at the Bryant Senior Wellness and Activity Center at Bishop Park on Tuesday. Members of the Bryant City Council came to the center during the week to help deliver meals to members of the community. The center also held a March for Meals Party, complete with refreshments and dancing, on Wednesday.

“It is a tough economy. the food and human contact we provide to seniors in this community are needed more than ever,” said Royce Ann Barbaree, site manager of the Gurdon Senior Activity Center, also affiliated with the CADC. “We need the community to come out and support our March for Meal events. Our customers are counting on us. We can’t let them down.”

On Monday, Gurdon Mayor Clayton Franklin visited the Gurdon center on East Main Street and delivered meals to members of his community.

The Meals On Wheels Association of America is the oldest and largest national organization composed of and representing local, community-based senior nutrition programs in all 50 of the United States, as well as the U.S. territories. These local programs are members of the national organization.

Collectively, there are some 5,000 local senior nutrition programs in the United States. These programs provide more than one million meals to seniors, the home bound and disabled each day. Almost two million American volunteers work in the program across the country.

The senior activities centers in the region are open to residents over 60. The centers provide older citizens support and encouragement to maintain their levels of independence, said Sherry Parsons, site manager of the center in Benton. Activities include exercise, social interaction, nutrition, transportation and recreation.

For more information, call the senior activity center in your community or the CADC at (501) 778-1133.

Staff writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at (501) 244-4460 or

Tri-Lakes Edition Writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at 501-244-4460 or

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