More than a year after closing its dining area, the Hannibal Nutrition Center is throwing open its doors once again, inviting senior citizens back inside to enjoy a meal together.

“I am so glad we’ve finally reached the point where I feel it’s safe enough to open for in-house meals,” said HNC Administrator Margee Tucker. “Our seniors have really missed this time with their friends. I’ve missed all the noise and laughter from the dining room.”

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Most of the seniors who will come back to eat at the HNC have had their COVID vaccine and that adds to the feel of a safer environment. The HNC has had to be extra-cautious because the elderly are the most vulnerable to the virus. Typically, about 100 people eat at the center each day. Throughout the last year, the center has offered drive-thru meals.

Even though the dining hall has been closed, the Meals on Wheels program has continued uninterrupted through the pandemic, in numbers even greater than before.

COVID hit the Hannibal Nutrition Center hard. They had to put a stop to fundraisers that brought in tens of thousands of dollars to fund the Meals on Wheels program.

“There is a misconception that this is a ‘free meal program’, Tucker said. “The fact is that cuts over the decades means that only about 30% of the center's funding comes from the government. The balance comes from grants and donations.”

If you’d like to contribute to help feed seniors in Hannibal and the surrounding area, visit the Hannibal Nutrition Center website.