Hartford-based Community Renewal Team (CRT) was the first agency in the state to start providing Meals on Wheels.
The Central Connecticut program, which is part of the Elder Nutrition Program within CRT, delivers meals to 800 senior citizens' doors and over 1,000 others in 34 senior centers. To do that, the program depends on federal grants, donations and fundraising.
That's why CRT has organized Thursday's 2012 CRT Golf Classic at Blue Fox Run in Avon to benefit Meals on Wheels.
"The point of it is to keep them in their homes without having to go to center-based care and without putting strain on the taxpayers," Jason Natelle, spokesperson for CRT, said.
This year, the 11 consecutive year of the tournament, 120 participating golfers raised about $40,000 for the program.
"For Meals on Wheels, it really helps us purchase equipment we wouldn't normally be able to purchase so we can deliver more meals," CRT Director Lena Rodriguez said.
The money will go toward purchasing a Chevy Silverado truck for delivering meals. The smaller trucks can carry 35 to 40 meals and larger ones can hold 60 to 80, according to Garland Tanskley, assistant director of nutrition at CRT. He said 22 trucks service the Greater Hartford area and there are five in the Middletown area. The cost of gas and food adds up.
"If not for the donations, this would be really hard," Tanskley, a Plantsville resident, said.
Meals on Wheels delivers lunch and/or dinner to seniors 60 or older in Enfield, Hartford, East Hartford, Southington, East Haddam, Middletown, Plainville, New Britain, Bristol, West Hartford and Stafford Springs seven days a week. The seniors are generally low-income. CRT requests $2 donations from each senior, but if they can't afford it, Natelle said the organization does not refuse anybody the service.
The main goal is "to be sure seniors who are homebound get a nutritional meal provided to them," Tanskley said.
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During the economic recession, Rodriguez saw a spike in the amount of seniors needing Meals on Wheels. At one point it increased by 25 percent during that time period.
Avon and Canton seniors cannot get meals delivered to their homes, but Meals on Wheels does contribute food to the Avon Senior Center and Canton Senior Center. Avon Meals on Wheels lunches are served Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12 to 1 p.m.
The Meals on Wheels lunches at the senior centers give the elderly an opportunity to socialize with others in their community, as well, Tanskley said.
There are 300 volunteers from towns across the state that help make the program possible.
If anyone is interested in volunteering, you can 860-560-5600.