Five Questions for: Vicki Keller

This month, FSD delved into the world of senior nutrition programs and how budget cuts have affected these services. Here we talk with Vicki Keller, program coordinator for Missouri’s senior nutrition programs. For more information on senior nutrition programs and to learn about non-commercial involvement in Meals on Wheels programs, read the October cover story “Seniors in Need.”

How many nutrition programs are run in the state?

The state receives funding for two senior nutrition programs. Federal funding is received from the Older Americans Act (OAA) program through the Administration on Aging, for congregate and home delivered meals. Funding for Medicaid meals is received from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. There is also a Meals on Wheels program that derives funds from various organizations, including United Way. The Department of Health and Senior Services has regulatory authority over the OAA and Medicaid funding but not the Meals on Wheels program.

In 2009, we served 2.76 million congregate meals and 5.33 million home delivered meals. In 2010, we served 2.64 million congregate meals and 5.21 million home delivered meals.

How much was cut from the state’s nutrition programs?

In state fiscal year (SFY) 2010, there was a net decrease from SFY 2009 funding levels of $1,320,260, this includes stimulus money received, net of the cuts sustained. We received $1,284,714 for the congregate program and $632,475 for the home delivered meals program, for a total of $1,917,189.

For SFY 2011 there was a net decrease from SFY 2010 funding levels of $2,243,413, this is from stimulus money no longer being available and further cuts sustained.

Have any senior nutrition sites been closed because of budget cuts in the past two years?

Yes, there have been a few senior centers closed within the last two years, though some of the closings were planned before the current budget cuts.

How have budget cuts affected the senior nutrition program?

No pay increases for staff; hours cut for employees; outreach efforts are not looking for new participants; extra emphasis has been put on participant contributions, re: raising the suggested amount of contribution; and with increase costs of utilities, etc., Area Agencies on Aging have looked for creative ways to cut food cost such as utilizing food from food banks.

What are the biggest challenges facing your senior nutrition programs?

Increased cost of raw food; health insurance cost for staff; greater need for meals to the younger disabled population; dwindling congregate meal participation; and meeting the needs of the newer senior population.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
regions hospital exterior

One of our new concepts, YumMarket, is a play off our YumPower brand that we have out in the community. We use YumPower in K-12 schools, and there’s a kiosk in a nearby minor league ballpark. We feature only better-for-you choices, such as fresh-made pizzas, sandwiches and healthy grain salads. We want people to know we are taking care of people here the same way we are in the overall community.

Ideas and Innovation
herb garden wall

In high-volume operations, few look at herb gardens as the end-all-be-all budgeting solution. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a return on the investment. The value, operators say, is in the message herb gardens and herb walls send—that an operation uses ingredients that are fresh, sustainable and healthy. Here’s how the growing areas have paid off at three operations.

A cafeteria wall at Miles River Middle School in South Hamilton, Mass., houses three rows of hydroponic lettuce spearheaded by an interdisciplinary group of health, science, math, technology and foodservice employees...
Managing Your Business
restaurant uniforms illustration

The standard foodservice uniform has undergone a makeover. Whether to make the job more appealing or extend personality to the guest, restaurants are allowing workers to express their individuality through what they wear, from T-shirts to bandannas to hipster-style aprons. Even in more conservative operations, staff can show their personality through uniforms, now offered in a wide range of colors, fits and styles. In choosing uniforms, operators also are weighing the message their workers’ wear sends, be it one of culinary skill and expertise, or a sense of camaraderie with the community...

Ideas and Innovation
rooster illustration

Sustainability is such a priority for Santa Rosa Junior College’s culinary arts program that produce often doesn’t even hit the cooler before becoming a meal. Students quickly transform the bounty of fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy and more, harvested from the college’s own farm, into restaurant-quality dishes at the Culinary Cafe and Bakery. They learn the basics of agriculture, practice pivoting a menu based on seasonality, and compost as they cook.

It’s little wonder the program recently placed first in the CAFE/Kendall College Green Awards: This Northern California community...

FSD Resources