Sue Clough is keeping a watchful eye on beef prices. She isn’t just worried about the price of her meals — she is worried about the price of meals for senior centers in 18 counties. Clough is a board member of the North Central Flint Hills Area Agency on Aging, as well as president of Marion Senior Center.
Shortages of feed for cattle last year led to a decline in the beef supply, which shoppers are now seeing in increased prices for ground beef, roasts, and steaks at grocery stores. So far the agency and senior centers it serves have been insulated from the price increase, but that may change soon as the agency considers changing food vendors. The current vendor was recently bought by Sysco.
At the other end of the spectrum, senior centers received an unexpected windfall recently with free lamb received through the state. Senior centers occasionally receive free food commodities, which at times includes ground beef, but this was the first time Clough has seen lamb given out.
“It surprised me, too, with the price of lamb,” she said.
Marion Senior Center had to organize with other centers to order enough lamb to qualify for the offer, Clough said.
“Those things help us keep our meal costs down,” she said.
The center had leg of lamb once in May and will have it again with lunch today. Clough said some people thought it could use a sauce the first time, and others had never tried lamb before.
“I thought it was really good, but I like lamb,” she said.
In the 1950s, Clough’s family would buy a semi-trailer full of young lambs in the fall and fatten them up over the winter for slaughter, so she has more experience with lamb than most. She added that many veterans of World War II were reluctant to eat lamb because of memories of eating tougher mutton while serving in Europe.
Meals at the center are $3.15 for people 55 and older and $5 for people younger than 55.