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Home-delivered meals program for seniors struggles with funding

Home-delivered meals program for seniors struggles with funding

A program that provides critical aid to homebound senior citizens in the county is currently struggling with meeting its funding needs.

Formerly known as ‘Meals on Wheels’ but now known as ‘Home Delivered Meals’ due to copyright legalities, the program is administered and partially funded by the Area Agency on Aging, according to Lake County Senior Center board member and volunteer John Bunch.

Due to federal sequestration, the program has seen a reduction in the amount of funding received, as the program is now funded to the tune of $3 per qualified meal.

Prior to sequestration, the program received $4.50 per meal, Bunch said.

“We do about 420 to 450 meals per month,” Bunch said, estimating the resulting financial shortfall around $500.  “That cut by the sequestration has really put a dent in our budget.”

The cost of the meals is about $4.20 each, Bunch said.   Each meal must meet nutritional compliance and usually includes salad, a main dish (turkey, chicken, a casserole, etc.) and soup, he said.

“It’s really a well-rounded meal,” he said, noting that in many cases these deliveries are the only bit of socialization enjoyed by some seniors. “It might be the only contact an older person has with somebody.”

“We have people that don’t see anybody,” he said.  “A lot of these people can’t get out of their home to get meals.”

The Lakeview area route consists of a travel radius of 32 miles outside of the town limits, Rez said, with most of the meal recipients predominantly in town.

There have been other changes recently implemented, he noted, as the meal program is now administered by the Area Agency on Aging, which encompasses Klamath and Lake counties. Previously, it was administered through the Klamath Basin Senior Center, Bunch said, but the rules changed recently requiring an entity separate from a senior center.

A separate board was established in June of this year in order to meet the changed state requirements, he said.

Bunch said he feels that local town and county governments should be involved in maintaining local senior citizen programs in order to further ensure that services such as these will continue in the future.

At present, ideas are sought for fundraisers, as well as private donations for the Home Delivered Meals program and other offerings at the senior center.  Money as well as food donations are accepted, Bunch said.

For more information, contact the Lake County Senior Center, located at 11 N. G St., at 541-947-4966.

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