The Food Line as Life Line for Yolo County Seniors
By Dave Rosenberg, Yolo County Supervisor, 4th District
Almost 2,000 Yolo County Senior Citizens are provided nutritious noontime meals by the Elderly Nutrition Program, a lifeline for many of the recipients. The statistics are striking.
In Woodland 640 Seniors are served by this program, in Davis 448 are served, in West Sacramento 547 are served, in Winters 93 Seniors are served, 38 in Knights Landing and 14 in Esparto. In terms of age breakdown: 287 of the served Seniors are aged 60-69, 687 are in their 70’s, 683 are in their 80’s, 119 are in their 90’s and 4 are over 100 years of age. Fully 70% of the recipients are over 75 years of age, 60% are low income, and half live alone. Women make up 69% of the meal recipients, and men compose 31%.
The Elderly Nutrition Program was established in 1975 in Yolo County and is a private, non-profit community agency serving healthy meals to seniors in the county. The mission of the organization is to maintain the independence of older persons through improved nutritional status and social interaction. The program provides a hot, nutritious meal to seniors aged 60 and older each weekday, through two primary programs: the “Congregate Program” and the “Home Delivered Meals Program” ( commonly known as “Meals on Wheels”). A small staff supports the programs, and is supplemented by many community volunteers.
The Congregate Program operate within Senior Centers and Community Centers throughout the county, providing a hot meal to seniors that are more active and can get to the site to eat. In addition to the meal, seniors get a chance to get out of their homes, socialize with friends and attend functions at the centers. Last year, 1,211 senior citizens were served by this program throughout Yolo County.
The Home Delivered Meal Program provides an opportunity for “shut ins” or homebound seniors to receive a hot, home-delivered meal on a temporary or long-term basis, for those seniors who can’t prepare meals for themselves and do not have family or friends to provide assistance. In addition to meal delivery, the program provides an important daily social contact, a safety net system for families. Last year, 569 senior participated in this important, life-line program.
Last year, the Elderly Nutrition Program served over 100,000 meals to senior citizens in Yolo County. The actual cost of each meal served is under $5. Donations are requested, and participants, many of whom are on fixed incomes, are asked to pay whatever they can afford. Participant donations averaged $1.69 per meal for the Congregate Program and $1.18 for Meals on Wheels.
But the Elderly Nutrition Program faces challenges in Yolo County. Last year, like many businesses, the program was hit hard with unexpected increased costs that made it difficult to make ends meet. The program experienced a 20% increase in food costs alone, in addition to being hit with a minimum wage increase, higher expenses for gas and a doubling of the utility bill. The program faces a tough financial year and for the first time has a budgeted deficit of $20,000.
Many volunteers support the program, and numerous community donations are received. But more help is needed to make the program viable this year and in future years. Only 13% of the funding for the Elderly Nutrition Program comes from private donations. More private donations are needed to help cover the $20,000 deficit. For more information on the Yolo County Elderly Nutrition Program, please contact Colleen Brock, the executive director, at 662-7035, or write to the program at 40 N. East Street, Suite C, Woodland, CA 95776.
Volunteers and donations are always needed and welcomed!