There's no clear-cut explanation why the county is serving nearly 1,000 more meals per month than they did a year ago, but the numbers were alarming enough to Madison County Board of Supervisors Chairman John M. Becker to get the word out.
"I just received this report from the Madison County Office for the Aging, and they've served 700 more meals during the past quarter than they did the previous quarter," Becker said.
What he didn't realize is that was only for the town of Sullivan.
The OFA counts meals served in two ways: Home-delivered and congregate meals. Congregate meals are those served at SNACK [Senior Nutrition and Country Kitchen] sites, places like the Oneida Towers senior apartments in Oneida and the Parks & Recreation Office in the town of Sullivan.
According to OFA Executive Director Theresa Davis, congregate meals -- usually the faster growing of the two divisions -- are fairly steady. On the other hand, the demand for home-delivered meals across Madison County -- including hot meals during the week, frozen meals for weekend consumption and breakfast bags -- is on the rise.
OFA's fiscal calendar runs from April 1 through March 31. For the 2006-07 period, the county served 159,457 meals total. This year, the number reached nearly 171,000. That information is compiled and submitted to the state, with a copy going to the county.
"There was an increase of 11,295 meals served in one year," Davis said.
Davis said it is not possible to deliver a conclusive explanation for the increase, but she has some ideas.
"First of all, our population is growing older," Davis said, "and our frail elderly population is growing by the greatest amount."
Davis described "frail elderly" as those 75 years old or older who have an increased potential for health problems but who are continuing to live independently.