Senior meal program gets $25,000 boost

A vital program that provides regular nourishment and nutrition education to senior citizens in Franklin and Patrick counties will increase five-fold, thanks to a generous contribution to STEP, Inc., the area’s community action agency. Solutions That Empower People (STEP), has received $25,000 in grant funds to expand its congregate meals program from the Foundation for Roanoke Valley.
Through the congregate meals program, nutritious lunches are prepared by STEP staff and delivered to specific sites in Franklin and Patrick counties where eligible seniors gather. Nutrition education and other activities are delivered along with the meals. With the grant funds, the program will increase from offering the meals four times a month to 20 times a month.
“According to recent data, nine percent of all seniors are ‘food insecure’ and that number is expected to double in the next ten years,” said STEP’s Executive Director Bill Loope. “Here at STEP we will not let this situation go unnoticed. Our recent Comprehensive Community Needs Assessment points out that more innovation, collaboration and food for those seniors-in-need will be required to solve the problem.
“With the support of Foundation for Roanoke Valley and the collaboration of our community partners, including the Franklin County faith based organizations, we will ensure seniors are provided with the food and support they need and deserve. We are forever thankful for the grant from the foundation which will be used to expand our senior meals programs.”
Approximately 150 seniors are served lunch at congregate sites every week. STEP’s other programs for seniors include home delivered meals and transportation to lunch sites, medical appointments, and grocery shopping.
STEP’s mission is to facilitate solutions that empower people to overcome their barriers to economic, educational, and developmental success within the communities it serves. STEP provides a wide array of services in addition to senior programs, including Head Start and Early Head Start; Virginia Cares (re-entry program); Life’s Academy (alternative and special education program); youth services; housing and weatherization services; and services to prevent homelessness for eligible individuals, families and veterans. Income tax and other financial services and education programs are offered as well.
Since 1966, STEP has been on the forefront of providing effective programs designed to help eligible individuals and families overcome adversity. Along with Franklin and Patrick counties, services are also offered in Pittsylvania and Henry counties and the cities of Martinsville and Danville. The agency serves more than 3,400 people each year.
STEP is among seven nonprofit organizations which provide services to the elderly to receive grant funds from the Foundation for Roanoke Valley. As part of the foundation’s Special Interest Grants process, nonprofit organizations were given the opportunity to apply to the foundation’s Mary Louise Home Fund and Marion S. and Willie Z. Camp Fund for Eldercare, both which support services to the elderly.
“With the aging population in the Roanoke Valley comes an increase in demand for services to the elderly. The foundation is thrilled to be a position to award such large impact grants in an attempt to meet the need,” said Michelle Eberly, FRV program officer. The foundation has served the Roanoke Valley for more than 27 years and currently administers over 300 named endowment funds established by individuals and families on behalf of the community.
For more information about services offered by STEP, contact the agency at (540) 483-5142 in Franklin County and (276) 694-2239 in Patrick County.

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