Friday, October 28, 2011

City of Abilene declines grant for senior meal program

because of new federal restrictions on what food could be served

By Brennan K. Peel

The city of Abilene announced Wednesday it declined a federal grant that historically funded a portion of the city's senior citizen meal program because of new restrictions on what kinds of food could be served.
The city has received the grant, about $110,000, for a couple of decades, said Lesli Andrews, program administrator for the city's Senior Citizens Services.
The grant typically covered about 10 percent of the program's cost.
If the city accepted the grant, the city's senior meal program would have to remove salt shakers and condiments from tables; disallow butter, margarine or bread unless specified in a recipe; prohibit traditional holiday meals; remove whole and flavored milks; and require smaller entree portions.
"The city of Abilene has decided to respectfully decline the grant due to the number of changes and restrictions placed on the menus we could offer, which would have negatively affected the seniors we serve every day," Abilene Mayor Norm Archibald said in a statement. "We feel we are best positioned to make the decisions that impact our senior population. It's about maintaining local control of our programs, including our very successful senior meal program, without the restrictions imposed by the federal government."
City staff anticipated new regulations were forthcoming and upped their budget during the current fiscal year by an extra 30 cents a meal.
Under the restrictions, costs would have risen between 30 and 75 cents a meal, Andrews said.
Total food costs for the program typically run about $2 a meal, she said.
Andrews estimated that the city would be close to breaking even after saving some by not following the restrictions and not receiving the grant money.
The program, which also runs on the beneficence of donors, could be unaffected if donations increase this year, she said.
The program served 107,876 meals last fiscal year — more than 450 each weekday.
Abilene City Councilman Joe Spano said in a statement that "the federal government can try to place these restrictions on the grant, but that doesn't mean we need to accept the money. We have been doing a good job for many years providing quality meals for our seniors, and we'll continue to find ways to cut costs and provide them with wholesome and nutritious meals. They have earned the right to make decisions like these for themselves."
Meals are served from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Monday through Friday at Rose Park Senior Center, and Sears, Cobb, South Park (Chavez) and Daniels recreation centers.

No comments:

Post a Comment