By Kasey Fowler, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
When faced with a brick wall, Wheatheart Nutrition officials, along with a lot of help from its benefactors, found a way to climb it.
“We had to close our sites due to budget cuts,” said Kathleen M. Willis, project director for Wheatheart Nutrition. “We had a lot of seniors and individuals go to the Capitol. House Bill 2367 restored a considerable amount to our funding.”
Despite that boost, the center still did not receive enough to keep the program going all week, so Wheatheart officials found another way to stay on top of service.
“We are not able to reopen our sites on Fridays, but the Friday meal is now sent out on Thursdays,” Willis said.
During the budget cut process, churches, organizations and businesses in communities served by Wheatheart helped provide Friday meals for seniors.
But it was a pace that could not be maintained.
“We have given them a break,” Willis said. “They have been so helpful, but it is a lot for anyone to do. We may need their help in the future.”
Plus, she said, Wheatheart still is receiving help from the communities.
“With other budget cuts, we have churches helping. We have businesses that are providing paper products. It has hugely saved us. In Ponca people still help and open the site on Friday. It has been wonderful, all the people who have stepped forward,” Willis said.
Willis said they have heard the program will be funded next year, but to what extent still is not known.
“We are hoping and praying that we can continue in the next fiscal year. The savings from people helping out has allowed us to continue in this fiscal year. We have been able to provide meals five days a week,” Willis said.
She said she is thankful for the help of everyone who worked to get funding restored or helped feed the seniors when Wheatheart could not.
“They have provided so much for us, and we are able to thank them. We want to thank all our contributors. With their supports they have been able to continue. They are too numerous to mention. The assistance we have gotten from our communities has gotten us to where we are,” Willis said.
She also hopes people understand the importance of Wheatheart.
“Our elderly may have to choose between food and medicine or doctors. It also means the difference between people being able stay in their home versus going into a nursing home,” she said. “As a result of the combined efforts of all these volunteers we are still here.”