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Senior citizens center taking over meal preparation for its Home Delivered Meals program

 

 

In a time when most non-profit organizations are challenged “to do more with less,” The Gathering Place Senior Citizens Center has figured out a way to provide meals to more senior citizens in the county for about what it’s paying for now.

Beginning this summer, the center will start cooking meals in its own kitchen instead of paying a supplier from Lexington to bring them “in bulk” to the center where staff then individually packages for delivery, according to Executive Director Ben Guerrant.

“This more cost-effective model can serve more seniors in Boyle County without adding to the expense side of the balance sheet,” he said. “Philanthropic money” is hard to come by, and Guerrant said competition for funding resources has increased. 

“So it’s important to be innovative in our service model in order to manage efficiency and have the most positive impact on our community.”

Even with the initial investment of upgrading to commercial-quality kitchen appliances and hiring an additional employee to prepare the meals, “the cost savings will be significant, and the home delivery meal service can increase by at least 2,500 annually,” he said. This will actually enable staff to provide a “better quality product to seniors we serve. Menus, recipes and serving portions will be set by a state nutritionist for optimal nutritional value.” 

The center is also investing in a more practical meal packaging system. The current packaging consists of aluminum containers with cardboard lids — which can’t be warmed up in a microwave. Now, food will be in plastic trays with compartments and heat-sealed with a film, enabling them to be used in a microwave or frozen for consumption later. 

On average, 25 volunteers at the senior center deliver about 1,081 meals a month, Guerrant said. They’re on pace to deliver nearly 13,000 meals this year. He said those numbers could increase up to 5,000 once the center starts preparing meals in-house.

So, with the anticipated increase in meal deliveries — the center could use more volunteers. “Actually, the center could always use more volunteers,” he said.

SO YOU KNOW

Boyle County residents who want to be added to the Boyle County Senior Citizens Center’s Home Delivered Meals program can call the Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) at (866) 665-7921.

Anyone interested in volunteering at The Gathering Place Senior Citizen Center or Home Delivered Meals program can call Ben Guerrant or David Chenault at (859) 236-20270.