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Hall County senior meal program allotted more time to bring services up to code

A senior meal service group in Hall County, is getting more time to bring services up to code. Board members from both Midland Area Agency on Aging and Senior Citizens Industries, met for more than three hours on Wednesday to iron things out. (NTV/ Ifesinachi Egbosimba)

A senior meal service group in Hall County, is getting more time to bring services up to code. Board members from both Midland Area Agency on Aging and Senior Citizens Industries, met for more than three hours on Wednesday to iron things out.

Midland oversees and disperses federal and state funding for senior programs in 8 counties including Adams, Clay, Hall, Hamilton, Howard, Merrick, Nuckolls, and Webster.

Senior Citizens Industries provides meals to seniors in Hall County, and receives some of its funding through Midland.

On December 26, 2017 Midland suspended funding for Senior Citizens Industries for 30 days, because it says the group was in violation of federal regulations.

Midland Area Agency on Aging executive director, Casey Muzic, said violations were recorded back in November and December at Regency Apartments.

"Seniors were being charged for meals," Muzic said, despite the congregate site being donation based and federally funded.

Muzic also said servers were not wearing gloves or hairnets, plus food safety guidelines weren't being followed. In addition, there were also violations at two Hall County home delivery sites, Grandview and Chrysalis Apartments.

"There were some meals being delivered to apartment complexes that were not being taken to the seniors doors, as they should have been. They were being left out in either a kitchen area or a common area," Muzic said, adding that some seniors got to the food after it got cold.

Senior Citizens Industries was also cited for not performing mandated safety checks.

"There's a lot of individuals who live alone, who don't have family in the area. This may be their one opportunity for somebody to check on them that day,” Muzic said.

"Midland has been aware of this. It's been this way for a very long time," said Pamela Lancaster, who sits on both the Midland and Senior Citizens Industries boards, and is also a Hall County supervisor. "The issue is, now with our new director, he insists that we deliver it to each apartment. That's the difference."

Muzic said violations at Regency have been resolved, and to be in compliance at the other two sites meals need to be delivered to the door of each resident.

During Wednesday’s joint meeting, Midland board member and Hall County supervisor Scott Arnold motioned to give Senior Citizens Industries ten extra days to get up to code.

"Because of the holidays, Christmas, New Year, and Martin Luther King Jr. holidays, it makes it more difficult to comply to a 30 day time frame," Arnold said.

"We need to find volunteers and sometimes that's very difficult, and we have to do background checks on these people," Lancaster said.

Senior Citizens Industries has until January 31 to bring on more volunteers and do background checks on them, so they can begin delivering meals door-to-door at delivery sites.

If this does not happen, Muzic says Midland could go through another source to get meals delivered, but no matter what happens meal service will not end.

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