Top of Utah seniors improvising for lunch on Fridays

Oct 6 2011 - 11:10pm

Senior citizens across the Top of Utah want lunches on Fridays, but it's taking some effort.

In July, the state cut funding for senior center lunches by one day a week, so the centers had to get creative in order to feed patrons on that extra day.

Before this summer, the Nutrition Kitchen, which operates through the Weber-Morgan Area Agency on Aging, provided area senior centers with lunches every weekday and asked for a nominal donation, around $3 per meal.

Many seniors have been confused by the changes and have even contacted their cities, blaming them for the changes.

Roy Mayor Joe Ritchie explained the situation to seniors in his city in a recent newsletter, saying the cuts came through the state down to the county but not through the city.

He advised seniors to contact the county or their local senior center directors, who are employed by the county, with questions on the matter.

Kelly VanNoy, director for the Weber-Morgan Area Agency on Aging, said he can see where the confusion comes in.

"Many of the senior centers are on city property or owned by the city, so they relate the two. It can be very confusing," he said.

He would like to get the funding back to eliminate the confusion and make it easier for seniors to get their lunches, but he believes the cuts were done in a way that affects the fewest people.

"We had to spread the misery," he said.

Angie Borup, director of the Roy center, said lunches are offered but have to be pre-ordered or pre-paid before Friday, which is the day the Nutrition Kitchen doesn't do lunch.

She has been working with home health care centers to help provide Friday lunches, so many of the seniors take a "field trip" to the health care center for their meal.

Centers also have been using another option: A local business provides frozen meals that are heated up at the centers on Fridays.

Borup said it is a very big change and can be a worry, because the Friday lunch may be the last healthful meal the seniors will eat before heading into a weekend.

"We are still doing it (offering the Friday lunch), but we are struggling," she said.

Deborah Haymes, manager of the Nutrition Kitchen, said the centers have come up with various options. Some have gone to a take-out plan on their days, rotating between various fast-food chains.

The North Ogden center asks seniors to bring their own lunches on Fridays.

The Golden Hours center in Ogden has provided other options, including a doctor who comes in once a month to buy lunch for the seniors and offer free medical advice.

Center directors encourage those who are able to donate funds so the centers can provide seniors with a hot lunch every weekday.

Haymes said the cuts have been difficult in her kitchen all the way around.

She has lost staff but still is trying to help as many Meals on Wheels recipients as possible. The program has a long waiting list. One Meals on Wheels route was cut in July, and several people still need lunches, she said.

VanNoy wants seniors and the public to know his agency is doing all it can to help the seniors. He also wants to eliminate confusion regarding the source of the problem.

"I am willing to talk with anyone to give direction or help," he said.

VanNoy can be reached by calling 801-625-3770.

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