1/14/14: County Senior Services Combats Hunger in Older Adults

Modified: January 23, 2015 2:58pm

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Amherst, Ken-Ton Meals on Wheels Now Providing Service for the Erie County Elderly Nutrition Services Program; Department Also Reducing Meal Costs for Stay Fit Dining Program in 2014

ERIE COUNTY, NY— The Erie County Department of Senior Services is increasing its effort in the fight against senior citizens’ hunger in 2014 through partnerships with Amherst and Ken-Ton Meals on Wheels and by reducing meal costs for participants in the Stay Fit senior lunch program. The American Association of Retired People (“AARP”) Foundation estimates that there are over a quarter million older adults in New York State at risk of hunger, with approximately 14,000 of them living in Buffalo and the surrounding suburbs and rural areas.

For the first time ever, in 2014 Erie County has contracted with Meals on Wheels agencies in Amherst and Ken-Ton to provide home-delivered meals and social companionship to frail homebound seniors in the Northtowns area. This vital service is a lifeline for older adults who can no longer prepare their own meals and who lack family support to help meet their needs. More than just a hot meal, the contact provided by Meals on Wheels volunteers gives seniors a human connection and conversation during their day.

“Meals on Wheels provides our older residents with a hot meal and a lot more, going beyond the essential nutrition component and adding an invaluable social aspect to seniors’ lives,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “No older adult should go hungry, and supporting this service in the Northtowns means that more seniors will have access to the nourishment they need as well as having a ‘friend’ to look in on them and spend some time talking with them. I encourage all older residents who might need Meals on Wheels to get more information and get involved.”

Also in 2014, the Erie County Department of Senior Services is reducing the suggested voluntary contribution for meals served at local senior centers as part of the countywide Stay Fit senior lunch program from $3.50 to $3.00 for each lunch. This move is expected to save seniors thousands of dollars while still providing the high-quality meals they are accustomed to through the Stay Fit program.

“This reduction in cost will put $150,000 back in the pockets of Erie County seniors while allowing us to continue to support senior nutrition programs,” said Erie County Commissioner of Senior Services Randy Hoak. “In the future we will continue to enhance our programs, strengthen delivery of services, and build partnerships to better serve our older adults.”

Funding for the meal cost reduction and for the new contracts with Amherst and Ken-Ton Meals on   Wheels was made possible in part by a reorganization of the Department of Senior Services that resulted in savings of approximately $250,000, which were reinvested in the Erie County Elderly Nutrition Services program.