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Local News

December 12, 2013

County cuts hot senior meals, cites cost


In questioning the change to frozen meals delivered one day a week, Rep. Keith McCarty, R-Springfield told his colleagues that he feared the end to daily stops at the home of recipients would leave elderly residents “very vulnerable.”

“You threw the elderly people under the bus for $76,000,” McCarty said.

His argument proved to be unconvincing, however, as the board voted 13 to 0 in approving the cut, with McCarty abstaining.

The recommendation for the cut came from the county board’s Health and Education Committee, led by Rep. Don Lindberg, R-Worcester.

On Wednesday, Lindberg said he would have never recommended the cut to senior meals had he known that raises for the county’s managerial workers would end up being recommended by County Treasurer Dan Crowell. As recently as early November, Lindberg pointed out, Crowell had said he didn’t think the county could afford raises for those workers.

“We were all told to make cuts and so we did,” Lindberg said. “If we had known they were going to put raises in, we would have never done this. It’s sickening to do this to the elderly.”

Crowell said the idea for the cut originated with Lindberg’s committee, in its conversations with the director of the county’s Office for the Aging, Frances Wright. While the treasurer said he did not know how much money the county would save per meal by switching from hot meals to frozen ones, other officials said the new system would save the county less than $1 for each meal served.

According to a resolution adopted by the county board, the county pays for 31 percent of the funds for its nutrition program, with other courses, such as the state, federal government and donations, picking up the remainder.

The board approved a $768,402 contract for Prestige Services of Clifton Park to run the elderly meals program — including both delivered meals and those served at congregate sites.

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