UPDATE 4/29/13 @ 11:20 p.m.
KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Paula Legge says she tried to get home-delivered meals for her elderly mother in St. Albans but was turned down.
"I was shocked because I thought that was something someone could easily get," she said.
Legge says she called Putnam Aging, which runs a meal delivery program for seniors in Kanawha County.
But administrators there say there was a misunderstanding.
"It is wrong information that anyone has ever been on one of our home-delivered meal waiting lists for more than a few months," said Ellen Mills Pauley, president of the Putnam Aging Board of Directors.
But Kanawha County commissioners aren't happy with how the meal program is being run and are pushing for their contract to be put up for bid.
"Why should the citizens of Kanawha County rely on an organization in Putnam County?" Commission President Kent Carper said.
Carper says he has received complaints about the amount of food available and its nutritional quality.
"It's just not appropriate ... they deserve better than that," he said.
Administrators say they're doing a good job with the limited budget they're given.
"There probably was a misunderstanding in the way the meals were portioned out," Mills Pauley said. "I think we've addressed that."
Carper maintains seniors would benefit from a program closer to home.
"Putnam Aging says they're losing money ... why are they fighting so hard to keep a program they're losing money on?"
The West Virginia Bureau of Senior Services told WSAZ.com that Putnam Aging is meeting its operational requirements.
They're left on waiting lists, hoping for a hot meal delivered to their home, but often never getting them.
Putnam Aging runs the meal program. Directors say rising food and fuel costs - coupled with heavy budget cuts last year - forced them to scale back on home delivery.
"We lost a large portion of money that we had to figure out, thus part of the reason for the waiting list," director Joyce Arthur said.
St. Albans Mayor Dick Callaway is worried about the wait-listed seniors in his city.
"It's going to boil down to finances I think...where does the money come from?" he said. "And that's what we want to try and do is resolve that."
Callaway approached the Kanawha County Commission last week on their behalf to ask for help. But he says it takes a community to solve the problem.
"People need to start taking care of their neighbors," he said. "Volunteer their efforts. And if they're willing and able, give dollars...that would be helpful."
Nancy Hillen is a retired nutritionist who feels that hungry seniors are a hard problem to digest.
"They're sick more often and that just runs up more bills and more concern for their families," she said. "I have deep concern for anyone who doesn't have an adequate diet."
Kanawha County Commissioners say they're not satisfied with the way Putnam Aging is conducting the meal program. They say they want to make it a top priority to transfer it to Kanawha Valley senior services.
Putnam Aging directors say they're doing the best they can with the resources they're given and will fight to keep the program.
They say Kanawha County has more wait-listed seniors than any other county they serve.
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