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Local Meals on Wheels program ending service

— After more than three decades of delivering meals to the homes of local senior citizens, Meals on Wheels is ceasing its operations in Skaneateles at the end of the month, due mainly to rising costs.

“It’s a matter of economics is the bottom line,” said Karen Caveny, route director for the program. “It is sad after 33 years … to have to end it.”

Meals on Wheels has been operating for the past three years by serving food prepared by The Athenaeum, the assisted-living home in Skaneateles that is part of Peregrine Health Management. Delivery is made to the program’s 11 participants every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, sometimes multiple meals at one time, Caveny said.

For The Athenaeum, which has 15 residents each of whom receives three full meals per day on site all of which is made from scratch using fresh ingredients in the Athenaeum’s kitchen, the double duty was simply getting to be unworkable, said Trudy Scarr, Athenaeum executive director. On top of their own food service needs, the Athenaeum kitchen was preparing about 45 meals per week for Meals on Wheels, she said.

“It’s not that we didn’t want to help any longer, but I guess economics is the word,” Scarr said. “The meal requests were increasing — and continued to increase on a regular basis — and it was requiring more time for the kitchen staff, more food.” This was added to with increasing costs as the price of food, gas, delivery and personnel hours, she said.

“We want to make this experience for our residents the best it can for them while their living here. We were trying to maintain [the Meals on Wheels agreement] with the original pricing, but with added work and what we are trying to achieve for our residents here it no longer was in the best interests of both parties,” Scarr said.

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