The Washington County Commission on Aging will shut down one senior citizen nutrition site and shorten the hours of three others in an effort to beef up its Meals on Wheels program, an agency official said Monday.
Susan MacDonald, executive director of the Washington County Commission on Aging, said the senior nutrition site at the fire hall on Big Spring Road in Clear Spring will close Jan. 28, and the hours at the centers in Smithsburg, Keedysville and Williamsport will be shortened from 20 to 12 per week.
The decision to close the nutrition site in Clear Spring and decrease the hours at the others was prompted by a loss of about $50,000 in stimulus funding and a lack of participation on the part of senior citizens, MacDonald said.
Only about six senior citizens regularly visited the Clear Spring site, she said.
“We had to make some hard decisions to meet the greatest needs with the limited dollars we have,” MacDonald said. “We’re probably going to save about $200,000 (per year), which will go to the Meals on Wheels program.”
MacDonald said operating the infrequently visited nutrition sites drained financial resources and prevented the Commission on Aging from providing Meals on Wheels to numerous seniors across the county.
“We have a waiting list of about 75 people for Meals on Wheels,” MacDonald said. “The real good news is that within the next several months, we’ll be able to eliminate the waiting list.”
MacDonald said seven part-time employees — the director of the Clear Spring nutrition site and six drivers from the Meals on Wheels program — will lose their jobs.
FedEx will take over the duties of delivering meals to seniors on Thursday, she said. The meals delivered by FedEx will be provided by Mom’s Meals, an Illinois-based company that manufactures unfrozen, vacuum-packed foods.
The Commission on Aging will pay Mom’s Meals for the food, MacDonald said. Representatives from Mom’s Meals will contract with FedEx to ensure each senior in the Meals on Wheels program receives one meal a day.
She said the meals are large and can be portioned to last.
“A lot of people will divide them into lunch and dinner,” MacDonald said. “They can’t eat the whole thing at once.”
MacDonald said Washington County Public Schools currently prepares the food for the senior nutrition sites and the Meals on Wheels program. She said the school system will provide the meals only for the nutrition sites when FedEx takes over delivery duties.
Although the Clear Spring nutrition center will close, the Meals on Wheels program will continue to deliver in that area, MacDonald said. The senior nutrition program’s annual budget is about $800,000 and is funded by federal, state and local governments. She said that money provides meals for about 800 people each year.