Senior meals imperiled
No-show forces center to deliver meals-on-wheels clients frozen dinners
Seniors who showed up for a noon meal Monday at Marion Senior Center were out of luck.
The newly hired cook didn’t show up, forcing diners to go elsewhere. Frozen meals were delivered to fulfill 16 meals-on-wheels requests.
Fortunately, someone volunteered to fill in for the rest of the week.
“We have a cook this week, but we don’t know about next week,” president Sue Clough said.
The center has been struggling to find a cook since Lucille Bitner quit in April. It is allowed a single cook for a maximum of five hours per day, five days a week. The Flint Hills Area on Agency pays the cook and recently raised the wage from minimum wage to $7.48.
Clough didn’t think the pay was the problem, but rather finding someone who has some experience and is willing to do it. Assistant cooks are available, but they are volunteers and receive no pay, Clough said.
As a nutrition site, the center is controlled by the area agency, including recruitment, hiring, management, and compensations. It funds meals at $5.55 per meal. Customers pay $3.50, which is returned to the agency. Some customers donate an additional $1 per meal.
The center itself is an independent corporation and must find its own means of raising money to pay other bills.
It is managed by a volunteer five-member board of
directors that control the funds and operations for everything at the center other than the nutrition program.
The cost of city services averages $530 a month, Atmos and AT&T average $262 a month, and casualty and property insurance is running $1,045 annually.
The county reimburses the center for 50 percent of the insurance premium. Maintenance costs for cleaning, termite treatment, plumbing, electrical, and HVAC are averaging $126 per month.
Manager Janet Bryant said an average of 50 meals is served each day including meals-on-wheels.
Seniors are encouraged to add one dollar to the cost of $3.25 per meal. Craft sales and rent from two offices provide additional revenue, and donations are welcome.
An ice cream social is planned within the next month.
“As long as we have a cook, it is manageable,” Clough said. “It’s upsetting and hard to deal with, but with a little bit of faith, we’ll find somebody.”
Clough and Jerry Kline have approached the city council requesting financial assistance, but no action has been taken in that regard.
City administrator Roger Holter believes the center deserves the city’s support.
“Our seniors deserve the respect and consideration of the community,” he said. “They are in that group that doesn’t ask for assistance, so they tend to be forgotten. They built the city, they raised the money for the center, and they deserve our time and financial assistance.”
The area agency will place an ad in the local newspaper and contact Tabor College for help in finding a cook, Clough said.
Lou Ann Bowlin, nutrition site manager at Peabody, had some encouraging words.
“We have a good cook,” she said. “Sometimes we go through spells. Marion is going through a rough time right now. I think they will come out of it and be fine.”
Last modified June 12, 2019