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Campaign to benefit Meals on Wheels
Officials, private benefactors want to raise money to slim waiting list
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Today, there are more than 130 people who have asked for the local government's help in providing them at least one hot meal a day.

Many are homebound senior citizens, others are disabled adults, and some have been waiting for that help for more than a year.

An official close to the Meals on Wheels program believes the waiting list could easily grow to 200 people in the next year, but a local group is hoping to prevent that from ever becoming a reality.

In a news conference today, local government officials and private benefactors will announce a private campaign to raise the money required to pull those in need off the waiting list.

The group has set up a fund at the North Georgia Community Foundation to raise the funds necessary to meet that goal, and in a kickoff event today, will invite anyone interested in helping out to do just that.

"The hope is to raise as much as possible to remove as many people as possible off the waiting list and onto the lunch list," said Phillippa Lewis Moss, the director of the Gainesville-Hall Community Service Center, which is the umbrella organization for the Meals on Wheels program and other human service programs like the Senior Life Center.

The Meals on Wheels program's $600,000 budget helps it to serve about 350 households, Moss said.

The Community Service Center has other state and federal money available to add people to the meal delivery program, but Moss said the agency needs more money to make sure the meals can be sustained for a full year before accepting it.

On the heels of Monday's announcement that two programs in the Community Service Center would be eliminated at the end of the year because of local government budget cuts, today's announcement offers a semblance of hope for the future of government-funded human service programs.

But Moss says it doesn't bring the government-funded human service agency out of the dark completely.

She said the meal delivery program will still rely on fundraising done through the Community Council on Aging, which asks for donations to the program through inserts in local water bills.

"It's not ‘either/or,'" she said. "It's ‘in addition to.'"