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The Times
  • Herkimer County Meals on Wheels needs $32,000

  • A rise in the number of meals needed for Herkimer County’s Meals on Wheels program has the Office for the Aging looking for $32,000 to cover the costs.

    The county’s Human Resources and Ways and Means committees last week met and approved an appropriation to cover the shortage. County Administrator James Wallace also anticipates another $19,000 in donations from the community.

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  • A rise in the number of meals needed for Herkimer County’s Meals on Wheels program has the Office for the Aging looking for $32,000 to cover the costs.
    The county’s Human Resources and Ways and Means committees last week met and approved an appropriation to cover the shortage. County Administrator James Wallace also anticipates another $19,000 in donations from the community.
    The resolution will go to the full legislature Wednesday to be voted on.
    If it’s voted down, individuals would have to be put on a waiting list.
    In December 2011, the program placed individuals on a waiting list due to a high number of requests for meals and uncertainty about funding,
    “We certainly don’t want to turn them away this time,” said Human Resources Committee Chairman Raymond Smith, R - Dolgeville. “It’s an awful lot of people in our area who need help, and the seniors are always up front in our thinking. We try to do what we can.”
    About $361,000 is budgeted per year for the program, with meals costing between $4 and $6.
    In August, 7,472 meals were delivered, up from 7,198 in January.
    The numbers “bounced around the whole year,” Wallace said.
    The program also has seen an increase in the number of people from 443 in January to 450 in August, Office of the Aging Director Kathy Fox said. It’s now at 436 people, but she anticipates more.
    “We’ve received five referrals a week since late August, early September, which is unusual,” she said.
    Herkimer County is not alone with Meals on Wheels issues. Oneida County might have to cut about 200 people from its Senior Nutrition Program because of increasing costs and a lack of state and federal funding.
    Since 2010, federal funding has dropped from $740,068 to a projected $659,304 next year. State funding in that period decreased from $505,797 to $471,065. At the same time, the cost of making and delivering the meals has risen from $5.57 to more than $7 in 2013.
    The program serves about 975 people, five days a week. There is a waiting list of more than 20 people to get into the program.
    The Meals on Wheels program goes along with Herkimer County’s goal to keep seniors in their home, which is why Ways and Means Committee Chairman Patrick Russell, R - Old Forge, said they wanted to be proactive.
    “We thought we’d try to get ahead of it,” he said. “We’re recognizing the fact that people are in tough times now.”
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