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By Pam Reinig

Register Editor


Budget uncertainties mean some senior citizens in Clayton County won’t get free meals delivered to their homes.

According to Greg Zars, Northeast Iowa Area Agency on Aging, a waitlist is in effect for the “meals on wheels” program until the agency learns how much of their current budget has to be returned to the state.

“There’s a possible $330,000 cut for the whole state and our piece of that is about $56,000,” Zars said. “The only way we can make the cut is to look at our largest service, which is meals.”

 So new people requesting meal delivery are being put on a waitlist. 

“We cannot admit them to the program at this time unless they can afford to pay the full amount of the meal, which is about $8.30 a day,” continued Zars. “If you’ve ever done meal delivery, you know there are lots of people out there who can’t afford that.”

The agency, which serves an 18-county area that includes Clayton County, receives state and federal funds as well as donations. Their state budget was cut to $1.6 million in 2016 and $1.4 million in 2017. Their budget for 2018, assuming they receive the full amount, is $1.38 million.

Meal delivery isn’t the only service impacted by the cuts. Zars said that respite services for caregivers and personal services for homebound seniors have also been waitlisted.

Meal sites aren’t impacted either. 

“The doors are still open in Elkader and Guttenberg,” Zars said.

The Elkader site is open to anyone who wants to eat there. Diners ages 60 and older are asked to pay according to their ability with a suggested payment of $3.50 to $4.50. Diners under the age of 60 pay $8.28. Menus are published weekly in the Register.

Despite budget cuts, the agency is always looking for volunteers to help deliver meals to people in the areasthey serve. About 80-85 meals are delivered from the Elkader site alone. For information on volunteering or donating, visit the agency’s website: www.nei3a.org

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