Senior program finds other meal providers after Golden Corral closes
By Peter Williams
Saturday, September 15, 2018
HERTFORD — The Albemarle Commission is working to find ways to provide hot daily meals to 350 senior citizens in four counties following Thursday’s abrupt closing of the restaurant that had been providing the meals.
For the past 12 years, Golden Corral in Elizabeth City had been providing food for the Senior Nutrition’s Meals on Wheels program in Pasquotank, Perquimans, Gates and Chowan counties. But on Thursday, Golden Corral owner Dale Horn announced he was closing the restaurant permanently.
The announcement caught many off guard, including Laura Alvarico, director of the Area Agency of Aging which oversees the Meals on Wheels program in a 10-county region.
“I wasn’t given any explanation other than they were closed,” Alvarico said.
The restaurant’s sudden closing has prompted Alvarico to stitch together both a short-term plan and a long-term plan for feeding Meals on Wheels clients in the counties.
“In a sense the timing (of the Golden Corral’s closing) was good, because the meals program had already been suspended because of the hurricane,” Alvarico said. “But it’s bad because we’re trying to line up somebody else, and a lot of those (businesses) are closed because of the hurricane.”
“My plan is to have everybody served as of Monday,” Alvarico said.
Across the 10-county area, the Senior Nutrition program serves about 1,100 people, Alvarico said. Some program clients get their meals through a congregate program where the food is delivered to a central location like a senior center. For those who can’t get to a congregate site, volunteers deliver the meals to their home.
In Pasquotank County, meals are delivered in bulk to the Virginia Dare Hotel and the Harriet Heights public housing complex. In Perquimans and Chowan counties, the congregate meals are delivered to senior centers.
Meals for the Senior Nutrition program in Currituck, Dare and Camden counties are currently provided by Trinity Services. Alvarico is working with Trinity, which has a contract to provide meals at the Currituck Detention Center, to also provide meals to about 80 seniors in Pasquotank County served by the program.
In Perquimans and Gates, Captain Bob’s restaurant will cater for the Meals on Wheels program next week. Alvarico said she plans to meet with the restaurant’s owners to discuss a longer-term relationship until a permanent meal provider is found.
In Chowan, Alvarico is working with a caterer to provide meals on Monday. Then starting Tuesday, the Eastern 4-H Center will provide the meals. The 4-H center already serves program clients in Tyrrell, Washington and Hyde counties.
Long term, Trinity Services may provide all of the regional program’s meals, Alvarico said.
Because Hurricane Florence was expected to threaten the region with high winds and flooding, the Senior Nutrition program suspended meal deliveries on Wednesday.
“Prior to closing the site Wednesday, our site managers contacted all homebound clients to notify them and inquire about their plans,” Alvarico said. “For clients who were planning to stay in place and didn’t have family or friends that would be available to help, most sites had shelf-stable meals on hand to distribute out to those in greatest need. For sites in need, we have extra shelf-stable meals in house to distribute as needed.”
Meal deliveries will restart on Monday. Site managers are also expected to contact the program’s clients after the storm passes to ensure they’re OK, Alvarico said.