Cranston, Warwick announce senior meal merger

The city of Cranston will provide meals for Warwick's weekday lunch and weekly dinner programs for the Pilgrim Senior Center.

For many years, WestBay Community Action prepared and provided the meals. Several weeks ago, the city learned that WestBay had decided to subcontract the meal program to an out-of-state catering company and would no longer prepare meals at Pilgrim.

"Over the last few weeks, due to a change in the provider to our seniors, we've been given the opportunity to work together and to look at some innovative and collaborative ways to bring our cities together," Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian said.

Cranston and Warwick have two of the highest population of elders in Rhode Island.

Cranston's program serves an average of 1,100 meals per day to a handful of senior centers.

Federal funds awarded through the Rhode Island Division of Elderly Affairs helps pay for the program and those who take part of the meals are asked to voluntarily contribute $3 per meal.

The goal is to make the program sustainable.

"Federal sequestration has hit senior nutrition hard through the state and all of our providers are doing what they can to tighten their belts," said Catherine Taylor, director of the Rhode Island Division of Elderly Affairs.

At the Cranston Senior Center on Friday, NBC 10 asked about the new deal and what they think of the food.

"The quality of the food is very good. They have a well-balanced nutritionist on staff and it's a good place to go. I enjoy it," one man said.

One woman agreed and is happy both Cranston and Warwick are working together.

"Just for people to get out there and go somewhere good that they have a place to go to get a healthy meal instead of staying home and cooking," the woman said.