Tri-City Ledger -

By Gretchen McPherson
Ledger Staff 

SAIL into Flomaton for food, fellowship

Senior citizens center open Monday-Friday


January 10, 2019

Gretchen McPherson

Nora Crapps, left, and Chiquita Mathis ready for lunch at Flomaton SAIL site

Flomaton Community Center on McCurdy Street is home to the Senior Adult Independent Living (SAIL) Program where seniors can eat a hot daily and participate in games, exercise and other activities offered.

Started in the 1980's, the program offers those 60 and older a hot, nutritious lunch daily between 11 and 11:30 a.m. and activities, such as exercise and games, as well as fellowship in a social setting.

The meal is served with the suggested donation of $1.50, but no one is turned away for inability to pay.

The food arrives in the morning already cooked, from GA Foods in Mobile, as contracted out with the state of Alabama. The food is required to meet Alabama guidelines for temperature and balanced nutrition before it is served to guests.

About two dozen elderly residents within a 3-mile radius who cannot come to the center are delivered a hot meal by Lynn Baxter.

The doors usually open around 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., closing shortly after the lunch is served.

"We started it in the 80's when I was on the council," said Flomaton Councilman Buster Crapps. "I teased them in the 80's when we got the program started, saying one of these days, I'll be over there. Well, guess what-now I'm over here."

Sammy White, Alyce Thurber, James Murphy come every day to have lunch and fellowship around 10 and leave around 12.

"We've been coming here for years, many many years," said Murphy. "The best part to me is the meals that are delivered to those who can't get out. Sometimes that's the only hot meal people get all day. Sometimes the delivery person is the only person they see all day. Some of them don't get to see anybody."

Candy Sanders and Barbara Williams come to lunch and visit with friends.

"We don't come here as much as we did when Daddy was alive," said Williams. "But when Papa was alive we brought him everyday. We have a token representation here."

Director of the Escambia County Council on Aging Sheila Brown said the senior centers partner with other agencies to offer seniors services and the need is greater in some areas than in others.

"We partner with Walgreen's or Home Health Services to come give flu shots and it is filed against their Medicare, part of the preventative service from medicare," said Brown. "It gets them out of the house and communicating with other seniors. It's good for them to come and eat with someone else, it's good to get their brains thinking. The SAIL program provides a health, hot, balanced meal, which some of them would not have otherwise."

The program is year-round but closed on all state holidays. The need is there more than the expense, Brown said.

"There are so many seniors out there that don't get the meal they need," said Brown. "They deliver the food hot when it comes. The food stays hot until served, has to meet temperature guidelines, to make sure we are going by Alabama guidelines. The state of Alabama has a dietician who makes up the menus. They are all the same for all senior centers in the state."

Volunteer Evelyn Simmons has been volunteering for about five years, helping serve the food and clean up afterwards, from about 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. every day.

"We need some help," said Simmons. "I need the help. We need the publicity. We have good days and bad days. Some days there are more than others."

Myra Jean Holt, Kathy Robinson, Lillian Coleman and Danny Johnson were seated at a table waiting for lunch.

"I've been coming here a long, long, long time," said Coleman. "I'm 98 and God has blessed me. I live by myself still and my son lives nearby."

Coleman calls the bingo when the game is played.

Robinson said she has been coming about a year and after retiring, she began caring for the elderly and accompanies Holt daily.

Flomaton resident Christine Fowler said she comes often to socialize and enjoy a hot meal.

Chiquita Mathis said after her husband and son passed away, she began coming to the center.

Brown has been director for three years and emphasizes the needs of programs across the county.

"We definitely need volunteers to help serve and for games and activities. We also need people who will help clean up, do the dishes, etc."

Brown said donations are welcome and much-needed to keep the programs going.

Anyone interested in volunteering, donating or having lunch should contact the center in their area. The Flomaton Community Center can be reached at 251-296-2773.


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