Taste of Sweetwater benefits local seniors

The Taste of Sweetwater is an annual event people of Sweetwater and the surrounding areas have come to enjoy. It is a chance for residents to sample foods from many local restaurants and other food establishments under one roof. This year, the event will be held from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Monday, April 14, at the Nolan County Coliseum Annex. The cost is $10 for adults, $6 for seniors and $4 for children ages 3-12.There will be approximately 25 different food establishments represented at this year’s Taste of Sweetwater. Much of the food is freshly prepared and there is always a large variety — from barbecue to sweets. There will also be drawings for children and adult prizes at the event.The event is hosted by Senior Nutrition Activities Program (SNAP) as a benefit for the organization. SNAP offers many things to the seniors and shut-ins of Sweetwater. The center, which is located at 1701 Elm, is a place for senior citizens to come together for conversation, games and other activities, which include, but are not restricted to, playing pool, cards, dominoes and working jigsaw puzzles.The participants also have the opportunity to play bingo two times each month. In addition to these activities, SNAP participants and employees take trips to events such as Hee-Haw in Sagerton, concerts and plays.The most important role SNAP has in Sweetwater and Roscoe is providing hot, nutritious meals for seniors and adults with disabilities. SNAP currently delivers approximately 175 meals every weekday to the homebound through Meals on Wheels. SNAP also serves approximately 35 meals at the center on a daily basis.What started out as a city-funded program, SNAP’s funding now comes mostly from the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services — about 55 percent. Another three percent comes from The Texas Department of Aging and Disability. The Nolan County United Way helps out with another three percent while Nolan County provides one percent. The remaining 38 percent is provided by donations, private contributions, fundraisers, memorials and the City of Sweetwater.Volunteers make home delivered meals possible. These people provide thousands of hours of service each year by driving their own vehicles and delivering meals to the shut-ins of Sweetwater and Roscoe. Currently, there are 17 volunteer routes — 16 in Sweetwater and one in Roscoe.SNAP depends on its volunteers as much as its state funding, grants and donations. Without the help of volunteers, Meals on Wheels would be non-existent. Also, many of the recreational activities at SNAP are possible because of volunteers.In fact, many people who participate in SNAP activities are those that volunteer.They volunteer to organize fundraisers, deliver meals and lead in games and recreational activities.A suggested donation for the meal is $3 for those over the age of 60 and $5 for those who are younger.Director Tonya Challis, secretary Janet Patty and clerk Betty Ramos run the center each day. The kitchen staff is made up of food service supervisor Marie Suggs, cook Marsisa Castellanos and kitchen aides Kayla Capps, Allison Gaytan and Benina Gonzales. Jim Jameson is the van driver delivering meals daily among his other duties at the center.The SNAP center is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, and everyone is invited to come eat and/or meet and socialize with others.SNAP is always looking for volunteers. Anyone interested can call the center at 236-6344. Donations can be made to SNAP, P.O. Box 450, 1701 Elm St., Sweetwater, TX 79556.