NEWPORT — Can you believe August is here already? We have made it through one more fiscal year, which ended June 30. The staff at SCNS worked very hard again this year to prepare, serve and deliver nearly 120,000 meals throughout Sullivan County.

The Meals-on-Wheels program is more than just a nutritious meal. Our Meals-on-Wheels drivers drove 72,006 miles to deliver hot meals, warm smiles and safety checks to homebound individuals living right in your neighborhood. For more than 70 percent of our recipients, the driver is the only person the recipient sees during the day. 

Contrary to many beliefs, the Meals-on-Wheels and congregate meal program is not free. The $936,000 yearly cost is not fully funded by state and federal programs. State and federal programs provide some financial assistance to help defray the cost of preparing meals. To access these funds, we must provide a cash match to the dollars received and serve an allocated number of meals to receive the partial support.

The actual cost to prepare a meal is $7.80. We have fundraisers, apply for grants, ask for donations and request municipal support to help meet the cost of providing a meal. The average client donation is .25 cents per meal for home-delivered meals and $1.35 for our congregate meal program. All of the towns support meals provided in their town and the one city in Sullivan County does not provide support for seniors and disabled adults receiving meals in their community.

State and federal regulations require that all Meals-on-Wheels participants be home during delivery. This requirement is part of the wellness piece that is included with meal delivery. If our driver is not able to make visual contact with each participant, our Elder Support team will take steps to locate the individual to ensure his or her safety.

The Elder Support Staff will call the client. If the client is not reachable, the next call will be to the emergency contact person identified by the participant. If staff is still not successful in determining the safety of the participant, the next call will be to a case manager, if the participant has a case manager, and the last call is to the local police department to request a wellness check by the police department.

Our Elder Support Staff processed more than 1,400 safety calls last year for individuals not home during deliveries. Not all calls resulted in saving lives, but some certainly did. This process strengthens the safety net we have in place for those we serve.

In addition to our meal programs, SCNS provides transportation, in Newport only, to adults who are 60-plis years of age. Our skilled drivers drove 11,331 miles throughout Newport to get individuals to medical appointments, shopping, bank, post office, to the Newport Senior Center and to other local businesses for a total of 4,447 one-way trips in Newport. 

The drivers assist individuals in and out of the comfortable car as needed, assist individuals with light grocery bags as needed and all trips are scheduled at the requested time of the rider whenever possible.

The average client donation for this valuable service is .84 cents per trip. The actual cost per trip is $9.70. The suggested donation is $1 per trip. Anyone interested in scheduling a ride or would like to learn more about the SCNS transportation service can call 863-3177. 

The great work our staff has done to ensure no senior goes to bed hungry could not be possible without the assistance of our talented volunteers who give their time and expertise. Volunteers assist with preparing and serving meals, registering participants for meals, answering phones and numerous other duties to help staff get through the day. 

On behalf of the Newport Senior Center board of director’s and myself, we would like to thank our staff and volunteers for their continued commitment to older adults in Sullivan County. Without their hard work, we would not be successful at providing the best service possible.

Donations for any of our invaluable services can be made to SCNS, P.O. Box 387, Newport, N.H. 03773. Volunteer and per diem opportunities are available. Any inquiries can be made by calling 863-3177.

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