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Nitro officials defend Putnam-based food plan

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Officials who run the Nitro Senior Center are coming to the defense of the Putnam Aging Program's senior nutrition program.

Putnam Aging supplies food to senior centers in Clay, Fayette, Kanawha and Putnam counties, and also delivers meals to shut-ins in the four counties.

Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper has recently criticized the food program. Carper said he has gotten complaints about long waiting lists to get onto the home-delivery program and about the quality of food served at senior centers in Dunbar and Charleston.

Carper believes Putnam Aging's contract for Kanawha County's nutrition program should be put out for bids by the state Bureau of Senior Services. Putnam Aging has had the contract for serving food in Kanawha County since 1993.

Carper thinks a Kanawha County agency can do a better job of providing food to seniors than Putnam County can. Officials for at least one Kanawha County organization, the nonprofit social services agency EnAct Inc., have said they would be interested in bidding on the county nutrition program.

However, Robert Schamber, president of the Nitro Senior Citizens Advisory Council, said seniors in Nitro are happy with the food provided by Putnam Aging. He said Putnam Aging supplies 60 to 80 meals a day at the Nitro Senior Center and home-delivers 34 meals.

"We think they do a great job," Schamber said Monday. "I eat there once or twice a week myself."

The Nitro Senior Citizens Advisory Council, which helps run the senior center, recently sent a letter supporting the Putnam Aging nutrition program.

"We realize funding is limited, but the Putnam staff at Nitro somehow manages to make the most of what they have," Schamber wrote. "No one is expected to leave hungry. This program provides a valuable service to our community."

The letter was signed by Schamber and seven council members.

Schamber said the food served by Putnam Aging is good. Typical menu items include Salisbury steak with gravy and mashed potatoes, pulled pork barbecue with beans, spaghetti with meat sauce and salad and turkey with dressing and apple sauce.

Schamber planned to have Salisbury steak at the senior center on Monday.

Reach Rusty Marks at rustymarks@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.


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