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Seniors lobby Oklahoma lawmakers

Despite snow and inclement conditions, nearly 350 Oklahoma seniors gathered Monday at the state Capitol to talk with legislators about their concerns.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Modified: February 25, 2013 at 7:12 pm •  Published: February 26, 2013

The chairman of a legislative committee on senior issues told seniors who gathered Monday at the state Capitol to “make a fist” as they battle for issues vital to those older than 65.

“Sometimes you have to make a fist and use it to pound on a few doors,” said Rep. David Dank, R-Oklahoma City. “There are literally hundreds of competing interests here every day, represented by hundreds of lobbyists and sometimes thousands of constituents.”

About 335 seniors, or slightly more than half of those expected, showed up for the annual Senior Day at the Capitol to talk with lawmakers.

More than 550 people preregistered, but blizzard conditions in northern and western Oklahoma prevented many from making the trip.

Forecasts of snow in Oklahoma City caused others to reconsider.

By noon, most were on their way home before travel conditions worsened. The event was to run through 2 p.m.

Several seniors said they supported House Bill 1418, which would require the state Department of Human Services to allow patrons of senior nutrition sites to take home leftover food.

Gwen “GG” Johnson, of Oklahoma City, said she was surprised to hear that 1 in 6 Oklahoma seniors struggles with hunger.

“People need to be careful about (the food's) safety if it sat out all day and then took it home,” she said.

Bernadine Perkins, of Atoka, said she has worked for senior nutrition programs for nearly 20 years.

“They would love to take some of their food home with them, but you have a concern whether it would spoil or not,” she said.

Perkins, 70, said the issue gets complicated because sometimes seniors don't go straight home or they want to share the food with others.

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