NEWS

New committee forms to help seniors get basics

Will Duggan

Two Mount Shasta residents have formed a committee to help underfunded programs that provide meals for local seniors.

“Our seniors deserve more than what they are receiving,” said Dawn Fazende, who is one of the founding members of the Meals on Wheels Fundraising Committee, along with Katrina Howard “We give them our respect and loving care but they also need the basics. We are determined to do our part and help them out in any way we can.”

“Right now we are stretched to the max,” said Anne Rutherford, the on-site program supervisor and kitchen manager for the Senior Nutrition and Meals on Wheels programs. “There is so much more that we could do if we had adequate funding for the program and everyone would be better off. In addition to more financial support we also need additional volunteers to help out serving and delivering meals.”

Five days a week the Senior Nutrition program serves hot nutritionally balanced lunch meals at Mount Shasta City Park for 30 to 50 seniors. Another 50 meals are prepared for home delivery through Meals on Wheels for those seniors  unable to get out on their own.

The programs, implemented in 1973 as part of the Older Americans Act, are currently out of money and operating at a deficit until the end of August. Purchases are being made on credit, according to program administrators.

In the past year improvements were made to the kitchen facilities, but more are needed to meet strict code guidelines for serving seniors, Rutherford said.

In recent years the program has ended up with a deficit in the $10,000 to $12,000 range, according to Fazende. Two annual fundraisers help to make up the difference. If more funds were available, services could be expanded to benefit more seniors both at the park and through the Meals on Wheels program.

Primarily funded by state and federal monies, the programs are administered by the Mount Shasta Recreation and Parks District under contract with the California Department on Aging and the Planning and Service Area 2.

“There is so much more that needs to be done to ensure the well-being of our senior population who have given so much to the nation,” said Barbara Swanson, executive director of the Planning and Services Area 2 in Siskiyou County. “Some seniors are being forced to make decisions that compromise their health, safety and well-being. When a person has to choose between food and medicine and other basic necessities, it indicates that there are problems with the system. As a society  we could all do a better job of   serving seniors.”

In addition to sharing a meal together at the park, seniors also socialize and participate in other fun and healthy activities. Bingo is played on Mondays and Thursdays.

The Meals on Wheels program also serves as a check-in to make sure that those seniors who receive meals are doing well.  

“This is a situation that we can do something about,” said Katrina Howard. “We may not be able to do much about the war in Iraq or the price of gasoline, but the nutrition program can be improved to really make a positive difference. It’s up to us. Everything helps out. We are placing fund-raising jars at some restaurants and businesses around town.”

Donations of food, coffee and tea can be dropped off at  the Senior Dining Center at Mount Shasta City Park.

Cash donations can be mailed to Meals on Wheels, P.O. Box 1289, Mount Shasta, CA 96067.

Fundraising suggestions can be forwarded to Dawn Fazende at 926-1762.

Those who are interested in volunteering to help with the program can call Rutherford at 926-4611.

More information about  senior programs is available    on line at: www.PSA2.org.