The Grovetown Senior Center won't be serving meals prepared by the county jail after all.
City leaders signed a contract July 10 to retain Gainesville, Fla.-based distributor GA Foods Services as their provider of daily meals to the senior center, Mayor Dennis Trudeau said.
In September, city Councilman Dick Manion led an effort to change the city's meal provider to the Columbia County Detention Center. Manion said he received many complaints about the quality of hot lunches delivered by GA Foods from patrons and home-bound meal recipients.
He has said the detention center, which provides more than 160 meals to homebound residents and patrons at the county's senior center on Euchee Creek Drive, would have provided better meals than GA Foods.
"We're not very enthused about it (the contract), but there doesn't seem to be an alternative right now," Manion said Thursday.
Though the cost per lunch would have decreased from more than $4 per meal with GA Foods to about $2.10 per lunch with the jail kitchen, the city would have lost state funding through the Area Agency on Aging.
Grovetown currently pays about $3,500 and receives a $37,335 state grant through the agency, said city clerk Shirley Beasley. Meals through the jail would have cost city taxpayers about $27,500 per year.
Another sticking point would have been the delivery of meals from the jail kitchen in Appling to Grovetown. The city asked for a used county van last year, which hasn't arrived, because the replacement vehicle purchased was improperly equipped, county Emergency Services Director Pam Tucker stated in an e-mail.
Trudeau said GA Foods has assured the city the meals will improve.
"They keep promising us that the quality will get better, and the quantity will be better, but we've got to see about that," he said.
Though a new contract has been signed, Manion said he will continue to push for another provider. He suggested the city could provide its own meals through the Liberty Park Community Center.
"We're still looking at it and we're hoping they will improve the meals," he said. "But we're always going to be looking at alternatives."
The issue might be revisited when budget discussions begin again in September, he said.
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