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

Industry News & Opinion

Hutchinson Middle School in Hutchinson, Minn., invited students to help serve lunch in an effort to encourage their peers to try new, healthy recipes, Hutchinson Leader reports.

The students, who are part of the school’s Students in Action Club, created posters to advertise the new meal and helped serve it to students during lunch.

The school’s kitchen manager, Janet Schmidt, said that around 37 more students than normal got in line to try the meal. The school plans to have students from the club help serve lunch once every month.

Read the full story via Hutchinson...

Industry News & Opinion

In an effort to trim costs, the country’s largest senior living company laid off 100 staff members, including regional dining services directors, reports Senior Housing News .

Not all employees who were laid off will technically leave the company, Senior Housing News notes, as some will be reassigned to alternative positions. Brookdale recently posted third-quarter earnings that fell short of analysts’ expectations and that the company’s CEO called disappointing.

At the end of last year, the Brentwood, Tenn.-based company employed 53,000 workers on a full-time basis, and...

Industry News & Opinion

After receiving mixed feedback from parents, Randolph County School District in Asheboro, N.C., is inviting parents to tour the district’s kitchens and cafeterias to see how the food for school meals is made, Fox 8 reports.

School officials say that the tours, part of the district’s first Food Day for Parents, will give parents an inside look at the upkeep of the facilities, as well as enable them to sample some food and see how the district is upholding USDA guidelines.

Officials also hope that the tours will provide them with more guidance on what parents and students are...

Industry News & Opinion

After fielding complaints from parents and students, Sodexo is launching an initiative to improve dining services at Emerson College in Boston, the Berkeley Beacon reports.

The initiative will kick off this month with an event dubbed Fresh Start, marking the start of several moves aimed at improving service—including the hiring of a new executive chef, the addition of a second sous chef, and retraining current staff on food preparation and presentation.

Members of the Emerson community will also be able to share feedback through the introduction of monthly forums, as well...

FSD Resources