July 16, 2012
OFA Warns of Shortfall in Senior Meals Program
OSWEGO - Oswego County's Senior Nutrition Program serves up to 600 seniors a day across the county, and Laurence Schmidt, Aging Services Administrator for the Oswego County Office for the Aging, would like to keep participation at a high level. However, voluntary contributions to the program are down this year, and Schmidt is concerned that his agency may have to establish a waiting list or make other adjustments if contributions don't pick up.
Schmidt recently told members of the County Legislature's Health and Human Services Committee that about 265,000 meals are served annually to seniors in Oswego County through meals on wheels and senior nutrition centers. Seniors are asked to make voluntary contributions to help offset the cost of preparing and distributing meals.
"This valuable program helps keep seniors safely in their homes," he said. "While county, state and federal funds pay much of the cost for each meal, they do not pay the full cost. Voluntary contributions are incredibly important."
Declining contributions from seniors, along with rising food costs and inflation, have caused a budget shortfall in the senior meals program. He estimates the shortfall could be about $20,000 by the end of the year if contributions do not pick up.
"Each of these meals must be prepared and transported throughout the county," said Schmidt. "Last fall, due to the strong demand by seniors for meals, we had to 'freeze' adding new people to the program and impose other limits. We are concerned that we may have to do something like this again if we cannot meet our goals for these contributions."
Schmidt recently sent a letter to meal participants explaining his concerns, and asking them to continue to support the program.
Anyone who would like to make a donation to the senior nutrition program may do so by contacting the Oswego County Office for the Aging, 70 Bunner St., Oswego, phone 349-3484.
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