POMEROY — The Meigs County Council on Aging’s “March for Meals” is on.
The annual fund drive to support senior nutrition programs , those who receive home delivered meals and those who eat at the Senior Citizens Center, is underway.
Every March there are special fundraisers geared to bringing in money to supplement federal and state funding and a public appeal for donations to support the Meals on Wheels program to supplement the cost of serving seniors who come to the center, sometimes for their only nutritional meal of the day.
Year after year federal and state funding decreases making it more and more difficult for the Meigs County Council on Aging to fulfill the needs of Meigs County’s home-bound seniors many of whom live alone. While some of the local levy funds go into the program, outside funding is the primary source of financing the nutrition program.
Charts which hang on the wall at the Center tell a story of declining support in federal and state funding. In the Meals on Wheels program the charts show that in 1999 a total of $97,860 was allocated for home-delivered meals but then with the exception of one year, the amounts began a steady decline. This year only $31,929 was received to support the program.
As for the congregate meals served Monday through Friday at the Senior Center, the 1999 federal and state funding was about $37,000 reducing each year and showing for this year a total of $21,896. It was estimated that purchasing the food for the program costs about $12,000 a month and then there are the expenses of wages for preparation and delivery along with maintaining the trucks which travel hundreds of miles a week delivering the meals.
Costs of the two programs far exceed the federal and state money coming in even when supplemented by some levy funds which leaves the remaining amount to be raised from other sources, primarily donations and fund raisers.
“We couldn’t begin to do our job of feeding seniors if we didn’t have community support,” said Beth Shaver, executive director of the Meigs County Council on Aging.
“We carry the day-to-day worries about how we will manage to feed those who depend upon us for a meal,” she commented. “But sometimes even with our extra work and the support of the community, it isn’t enough to overcome the funding reductions. That is why for the first time our 41-year history we have started waiting lists for our senior services. We simply cannot afford to take on more people. We have reached a limit,” she added.
Chandra Shrader who is care coordinator for the agency, said that there is now a threat that there will be another 10 percent reduction in federal money.
Shaver said that agency personnel places a high value on the senior nutrition programs and were “astonished” and very appreciative when the Ohio Valley Bank made a recent donation of $20,000 to the Meals On Wheels program.
Events for the March for Meals include pin-ups which are given for a $1 donation and put on display, and a dinner and cake baking contest to take place at the Center on March 28 which is always well attended. Cakes in five different categories can be entered into the competition where prizes are awarded for the grand and reserve grand champions and then the cakes are auctioned off.