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Opinion

December 28, 2013

Frozen senior meals are not a betrayal

I’m an Otsego County rep and a member of the Health and Education Committee, chaired by Don Lindberg. I also agreed to moving to frozen meals for older citizens who receive senior meals. If you had sent a reporter to our committee meeting yesterday (Dec. 17), you would have saved yourself some embarrassment.

“Asinine” is a strong word, especially when you have not assembled the facts. About 11,000 Otsego County citizens are over 65; about 450 of them — about 4 percent — receive senior meals. So we did not “betray our senior citizens.” Of those 450, about 150 have been getting frozen meals for a number of years, most since 2009. Only seniors in the Route 7/Route 28 corridors (and some around Cherry Valley) have been getting daily hot meals since then. Seniors on the frozen meal plan have expressed great satisfaction with the frozen meals in anonymous surveys. And the Office of the Aging Advisory Council, representing seniors from all over the county, approved the move to all frozen meals — and got called “asinine” for their efforts.

Non-mandated programs like the senior meals face cuts year after year, especially from those who feel that not raising taxes is the greatest of all goods. We managed the save the program itself by moving to frozen meals, and we did not have to close any of the congregate meal sites. Other counties have chosen to simply leave isolated parts of the county out altogether, since a hot meal must be delivered within two hours of being produced, or it must be thrown away.

We still bring meals to Otsego County seniors who need them, and we don’t have to. I think that’s quite an accomplishment.

Gary Koutnik

Oneonta

 

 

 

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