By Sandy Hanson
Special to the Economist
The articles in the Economist about Solon’s Old Gold Senior Dining program have brought to light the importance of congregate meals as well as delivered Meals on Wheels. The articles focus on the struggles senior groups have experienced to retain a site manager at the congregate dining site. Federal programs now target Meals on Wheels serving the frail and homebound rather than congregate meals. Solon congregate meals serve many seniors, some who have a variety of senior problems, some on oxygen, others in wheelchairs and many with walkers. Those dining in enjoy not only the nutrition but participate in Bingo, cards and other forms of entertainment. This is our senior center in Solon.
The Solon Retirement Village has now assumed the preparation of the daily meals served at the senior dining site in the Solon United Methodist Church plus the Meals on Wheels program. Working locally is more convenient and saves considerable time traveling to Iowa City daily to fetch meals as in the past but the move away from Elder Services, Inc. and their funding agency, Heritage Agency on Aging, has now placed the responsibility of funding on us.
There are three critical areas that need supported financing; (1) our site manager, who carries out many tasks in addition to serving meals, contacting seniors regarding special events, monitoring the menu, overseeing meals for home-bound seniors, maintaining records, ordering supplies and a myriad of daily tasks. (2) Donations to cover mileage and the time spent for our volunteer Meals on Wheels deliverers, who also take time to chat and make sure the seniors are well and not in trouble. These volunteers have gone beyond delivering nutrition, often the only daily visit for some. (3) Meals on Wheels were subsidized by federal monies but now there is a charge for those recipients, most are willing and able to pay the $3.25 daily charge but several are unable, therefore this shortfall needs to be addressed.
We are determined to maintain our site manager and our Old Gold Senior Dining program that is all-important to our senior community. The Senior Advocates grant requests were not funded this year and our mission is to keep seniors active, socialized, fed and entertained and we are asking our community to choose one of these three areas to support. Call Art Tellin, Site Council President, 855-9797 or Sandy Hanson, Senior Advocate President, 624-2710, to see how you can help with this essential service.