Crawford County Commission on Aging and Senior Center continues to see steady meals program demand
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
Putting food on the tables and in the bellies of older adults continues to be the number one focus for the Crawford County Commission on Aging and Senior Center.
Alice Snyder, the executive director of the Crawford County Commission on Aging and Senior Center, gave the agency’s 2018 annual report to the Crawford County Board of Commissioners on Thursday, Jan. 24.
A total of 40,100 meals were provided to senior citizens last year to 1,118 residents. Seventy percent of the meals were home-delivered through the Meals on Wheels program. The total program cost rose to $100,000.
Consequently, 48 percent of the funds spent on providing the meals came from millages supported at the polls by county voters for the Commission on Aging. That is compared to 42 percent paid for through grants from the federal and state government.
“Until the government programs are looked at and are prioritized in the state or federal budgets, this will probably continue to look this way and worse, because we have more people that are aging,” Snyder said.
The remaining 29 percent of meals were served through the congregate meal program, which includes lunch and dinner. An average of 148 people attended monthly community meals served at the senior center.
As the need to help senior citizens increases, more millage funds will be used to cover those costs. The Commission on Aging, which has the motto: “Creating Golden Opportunities for Older Adults of Today and Tomorrow,” served 30 percent or 1,390 Crawford County seniors age 60 and above.
A total of 6,482 hours for in-home services were provided to 143 individuals last year. That included 73 percent in homemaking, 15 percent in respite care, and 12 percent in personal care.
The Commission on Aging has a policy to not have a waiting list for people that come out of the hospital and can still remain in their homes.
“Our policy had always been to serve everybody that is eligible and with a need,” Snyder said. “We back fill it with millage dollars.”
The number of people served changes from month-to-month.
“There are some months and some years where people need more help than others,” Snyder said. “We’ve never been able to figure out a rhyme or a reason as to why the number goes up and down.”
A total of 648 people received assistance through the agency’s advocacy program, which included helping 256 seniors with their Medicaid and Medicare benefits.
“Those services will continue to climb,” Snyder said.
The Commission Aging brought in $911,003 in revenues, with 63 percent of funding coming from millage dollars. The millage levied is at one mill, which is the maximum level allowed by state.
“That’s probably where we will remain with hopefully some slight increases in taxable value,” Snyder said.
Although the agency relies on the support from county voters, it is less costly than having senior citizens in nursing homes and in assisted care facilities.
“When you look at the big picture, it’s a good bang for the buck, but it is what causes us to not do things senior center-wise,” Snyder said.
The Commission on Aging added $15,000 to its fund balance. The funds are split between two pots of money. A total of $230,000 is banked in a contingency fund to pay for three months of operating costs. Another $148,000 is held in a capital fund account for the potential of making a down payment for a new senior center.
The Commission on Aging Board, however, will discuss using some of those funds to spend on staffing and staffing services at its March meeting.
On the front of trying to build a new senior center due to cramped quarters at the current facility, a task force of local officials are studying prospects in the community.
“At this point, we are just still a group of people that are meeting and trying to figure it out,” Snyder said. “We don’t have any great answers.”
Crawford County Administrator Paul Compo is on the task force, which includes Camp Grayling and hospital officials.
“The idea right now is to join a community center with a senior center that has wide reaching aspects to it,” Compo said.
The City of Grayling has purchased a piece of property tucked in behind the Department Health and Human Service Offices and the Crawford County Community Christian Help Center for a potential community center.
The decision on moving forward with the community center and senior center will be made later this year.
“They’re holding that piece of property, but I’ve been told that they’re not going to do it forever,” Snyder said. “The intent is if we’re not going to do a project, they’re going to put back on the market and get rid of it.”
Finally, the Commission on Aging is seeking monetary donations to purchase reusable cloth bags used for the Meals on Wheels program. The preferred bags come with bottom liners to accommodate the trays, which hold the food.