Inmates to prepare meals for Council on Aging
HOUMA, La. (AP) — After budget cuts forced Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Jerry Larpenter to end his meal service for the Terrebonne Council on Aging, the program has found a new home.
Inmates from the newly completed Lafourche Parish jail will soon be cooking meals for the organization, said Diana N. Edmonson, Terrebonne Council on Aging executive director.
Since March 1998, the Sheriff’s Office inmate work program has prepared meals for the Council on Aging. Trusties did the cooking for the council in their jail kitchen, located on the third floor of the Terrebonne Parish Courthouse.
However, Larpenter eliminated the service after his proposed 0.5 percent sales tax increase failed in November.
“When I realized there was no way we could continue the program in Terrebonne, I knew we would have to find an alternative place for the meals,” Edmonson said. “I called (Lafourche Sheriff Craig Webre), and he was kind enough to cook the meals. They have a beautiful new facility with a large kitchen that can cook a lot of meals.”
Lafourche inmates will begin cooking the meals Jan. 7, Edmonson said.
Lafourche sheriff’s Lt. Brennan Matherne said inmates will prepare just under 3,000 meals a day at the new jail, which held its grand opening last week. About 800-900 meals will go toward Terrebonne and 460-470 will be for the Lafourche Council on Aging.
About 567 meals will be cooked for the Head Start program and 900-1,050 will go to the inmates themselves, Matherne said.
The Council on Aging is largely supported through a 7.5-mill property tax approved by Terrebonne Parish voters, Edmonson said. The organization is a private, non-profit group that has a cooperative endeavor agreement to provide services and facilities to those 60 years and older in the parish using that tax money. It also receives some state and federal money.
Edmonson said she didn’t blame Larpenter for cutting the program and hopes the local economy will rebound.
“Sheriff Larpenter has been a very good friend for the Council on Aging,” she said. “For 20 years his inmates have prepared 3.5 million meals for us. It was his idea in the first place. The parish bought all of the equipment, we provided the food and containers, the inmates cooked it and we delivered it. It was a wonderful, wonderful venture. I don’t think the sheriff wanted to do it this way but was forced to due to lack of funds. He’s always been there for the elderly.”
Information from: The Courier, http://www.houmatoday.com