Friday, November 30, 2012
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Gwinnett Daily Post
LAWRENCEVILLE -- Gwinnett officials broke ground Friday on a new building that could allow the Meals on Wheels program to triple.
The $2.9 million project is the second phase of a federally funded senior services facility, which opened two years ago on Swanson Drive in Lawrenceville. The expansion would allow the county to serve up to 2,000 meals a day to seniors, compared to the current 600 delivered to homes as well as served at Lawrenceville, Norcross and Buford senior centers.
"That's a lot of grandmas and grandpas they get to serve," said Ed Jennings Jr., Southeast regional coordinator for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which funded the facility through a community development block grant. In a year, the program could serve 158,000 meals, he said. "Generations of Gwinnettians will have an opportunity to be fed."
Gwinnett Chairwoman Charlotte Nash talked at the ceremony about how grateful the county is for the funds. She recounted her first interaction with the program in 1979, when she worked as the county's grant manager. At the time, she said, the county was grateful for $75,000 to add handicap-accessible bathrooms and a refrigerator and stove at the senior center.
"We know we are going to add large numbers of seniors to the county," she said. "We couldn't do all we could for seniors without the community pulling together."
The work, which is expected to take about a year, will create a commercial-grade kitchen in a 12,000-square-foot energy efficient building.