Nov 21, 2012 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
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.
Caveny said the Meals on Wheels program administrators met at the end of August and verified the need to end the program the first week of September. They tried to find other providers in Auburn and the surrounding areas to make the meals, but were unable to find an organization that could do it at a reasonable cost, she said.
The Athenaeum also reached out to its local contacts in the surrounding area to assist in finding a replacement service, also to no immediate avail, Scarr said.
“The Athenaeum has served us very well. We totally understood. It was a blessing to have such local help for so long,” Caveny said. “Everybody ended on a positive note, just a sad one.”
Both Caveny and Scarr said they retain hope that some new food provider may be found and the service may be able to be restarted in the future.
The Meals on Wheels program notified its users in person and in writing recently about the ending of the service on Nov. 30, hoping that the advance notice was enough for the families to find alternate solutions, Caveny said.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.