A Buna senior citizen says that he is gathering names on a petition in an effort to stop the recently announced cessation of the Jasper County Committee on Aging’s Meals Program, and he says so far he has gathered over 130 signatures.
Norris Dunn says he plans on presenting the petitions to the organization’s board during their next meeting, which will be on Wednesday, September 18th.
Dunn said on Friday “I go up there three or four times a week. The food is great. There’s a lot of older people there and that’s the only time they get out of the house all week long, and they get a nourishing meal”.
Dunn said he was disturbed to learn that the meal program was going to end due to lack of funding, so he’s trying to save it, one signature at a time. “I was at Brookshire Brothers here in Buna all day yesterday (Thursday) and I got about 80 or 90 signatures”, said Dunn.
According to Dunn, he also has a petition in each of the Buna school campuses and is collecting signatures there.
It was learned about a month ago that the program, which serves "congregate meals" to senior citizens in their Jasper, Kirbyville, and Buna locations, would soon be ending. However, J.C.C.O.A. Executive Director Mitch McMillon said that they would continue deliveries of frozen meals to homes through their “Meals on Wheels” program.
McMillon said the decision to discontinue the congregate meals was made due to the continuing decline of federal funding and also the decline of the number of people who received the meals each day. He said the number of people eating the meals first dropped a few years ago when the agency went from asking for a $2.00 donation per plate to $3.00.
McMillon also said that other factors were the federal agencies that administer the nutrition grants had changed their mode of funding, resulting in a loss of just over $200,000.00 in the budget for operation of the J.C.C.O.A. and its programs, and also the move by government agencies to fund the delivery of food to homes, instead of serving it in the centers.
Meanwhile, questions remain about the organization’s finances after McMillon last month confirmed to KJAS News that the signature of Albert Snell, who is deceased, had been appearing on checks written by the organization after his death, and also the fact that McMillon operates a private insurance company inside the federally funded 501(c)(3) building.
When questioned about Albert Snell’s signature on checks, McMillon stated that the organization uses a practice of requiring two signatures on their checks, and he said that Snell had given him permission to sign his name when he was not available. McMillon said after Snell’s death, it was sometimes difficult to get a board member to provide a second signature on checks, so he continued to sign Snell’s name. McMillon said “I wrote his name on a few of them checks”.
Snell served on the organization’s board of directors and he died in November of last year.
McMillon also said that the board gave him written permission to operate his Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas and Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company in the building. However, a document that McMillon provided to KJAS News mentioned nothing about allowing the business to operate in the building.