Congregate meal program doing well…

…but finances aren’t

The board at the congregate meal site at the Greenewood Center in Jefferson is dealing with good news and bad news.

The good news is that a lot of seniors participate in the program. During the year that ended June 30, a total of 21,000 meals were served, either at the site or via home delivery. Greenewood is the only meal site, but meals are prepared there for home delivery in Jefferson, Grand Junction, Churdan and Scranton. In Jefferson during September, 727 meals were served at the site and another 1,225 meals were delivered, for an average of 96 lunches a day. The average meals served for the year for all four towns was 87.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that finances are a struggle. Operating funds have been cut from $11,000 per month to $9,000. (The federal funds are distributed by Elderbridge Agency on Aging.) The smaller budget doesn’t cover all expenses, and the board has had to dip into emergency funds to meet needs.

Board member Linda Ross credits the cooks for providing delicious meals on a budget.

During the summer local gardeners were generous in sharing their excess produce with the congregate meal program, and the cooks put everything to good use.

The board is all volunteer, and the home delivery is done by volunteers. “We couldn’t do any of this without our volunteers,” board member Jan Scharingson said.

The board has asked the county supervisors for Dreyfus funds. The supervisors agreed to consider a request for funds to cover equipment should something fail, but they can’t help with operating expenses. The board hopes organizations will help shore up the operating budget, and that families will remember the congregate meal program when they designate recipients of their parents’ memorial funds.

All are welcome to call 515-386-9170 and make a reservation to eat. Diners older than 60 are asked to make a contribution. The cost for diners younger than 60 is $6.25.

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