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Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • Nutrition center hosts open house

  • A large crowd came out Sunday afternoon for the open house at the Hannibal Nutrition Center and Senior Services to tour the newly-renovated building at 10th and Church street. Some were senior adults who eat there five days a week, while others were volunteers, cooking crew and board members.


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  • A large crowd came out Sunday afternoon for the open house at the Hannibal Nutrition Center and Senior Services to tour the newly-renovated building at 10th and Church street. Some were senior adults who eat there five days a week, while others were volunteers, cooking crew and board members.
    All agreed this new location offers a great opportunity for recreation for senior adults, along with their lunch. The building also is available to clubs and people planning a private reception.
    Margaret Hase, who moved to Hannibal from Warrenton a year ago, eats there several times a week, and said her favorite meal is catfish. “They do an excellent job. The staff in the kitchen - I can’t speak highly enough of them.”
    Board chairman Sarah Deien, who has served on the board 16 years, said the number of people eating a the dining room has increased since the nutrition center moved into the building from Sixth and Church streets three weeks ago. “You could take the other place and stick into in our kitchen,” she said.
    “To this community it’s more than a building - it’s a place the whole community can use and seniors can be proud of. They really needed it.”
    One guest with a special connection to the renovated building was Dorothy Bleigh, whose late husband, Woodrow, founded Bleigh Construction Co. The center’s building project was contracted by Bleigh Construction. Bleigh said the building was beautiful.
    “I think it’s wonderful,” said volunteer Elva Reed, who helps at the nutrition center every day it is open. Her transportation is provided by Odetha Guessford, who also was enjoying the open house Sunday.
    Debbie Catlett, executive director of the center, has been with it since it began serving meals at the Hannibal Highrise apartments at 11th and Broadway 17 years ago. She reported the center now serves an average of 100 to 125 meals a day in the dining room, delivers 350 to the home-bound and provides 100 for day programs, plus a total of 250 for the Hannibal Supervision Center and the Hannibal Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse.
    ‘Dream finally
    came true’ - Maddox
    Paul Maddox, who led the board of directors for many years until this year, was among the people most pleased to see the new location open to the public. “I love it,” he said. “This has been one of the dreams that finally came true.”
    He explained how the nutrition center got its start, after first serving meals at the Hannibal Highrise at 11th and Broadway. The property at Church and Sixth streets was owned by the city, and it was sold to the nutrition center for $1, Maddox said. A house that also was purchased for $1 was moved to the location.
    Page 2 of 2 - Richard Schwartz, who was mayor at the time, explained that the city not only was contracted when they started but upped its funding, and Marion County followed suit.
    Maddox said at first the city provided $2,500 and this year it provided $18,000, with Marion County providing $6,000, toward the 115,000 meals that are currently prepared each year.
    Maddox said at the old location, the kitchen was so small that there was an “unwritten rule, you did not go in that kitchen when they were preparing meals unless you wanted to work.”
    Schwartz said he was glad to see the community support the nutrition center. And “it’s a tribute to Debbie’s enthusiasm.”
    “I love it. We waited a lot of years for this to happen,” said head cook Peggy Scholes, adding she is very proud of the new kitchen. She said the cooking crew can prepare 700 meals at once.
    Scholes has worked there for “off and on” for 14 years. The new kitchen has two six-burner stoves, doubling its former cooking capacity, she explained. It has a deep fryer, a built-in griddle and a large “tilt skillet” that can fry a case of chicken at once. Demonstrating how this skillet works, she tilted it to show it drains into a floor drain below it.
    Among the speakers at the open house was state Rep. Rachel Bringer, who said “this is a wonderful partnership between the state of Missouri and this community.” The state contributed $250,000 in tax credits toward the more than $1 million project, she explained, through the legislature and the Department of Economic Development, “and the community contributed the rest.”
    State Sen. Wes Shoemyer said he was proud to be part of all the nutrition sites in Northeast Missouri.
    Mayor Roy Hark said opening the new center “took a lot of work on a lot of people’s behalf. The nutrition center is a place seniors can go and enjoy,” such as the big-screen television, “socialize and have good food. It gives them something they can do.
    “The city is behind it and believe in it,” Hark added. “Debbie has done a great job. Its a great things for this community and a lot of people have given money.”

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