Recent national sequestration funding cuts have had an impact on the Jefferson County Senior Center and other centers across the country.

According to a flier from the Meals On Wheels program, nationwide, one in seven seniors struggles with hunger. However, due to the sequestration, 40 percent of the MOW programs are eliminating staff, 50 percent are reducing the number of seniors being served, and 70 percent are cutting the number of meals served.

One out of six MOW programs are closing meal sites or home-delivered meal programs, and 40 percent are reducing the number of days they deliver meals.

Bill Apgar, vice president of the Seniors of Jefferson County Board, which runs the local Meals On Wheels program along with Central Oregon Council On Aging, said COCOA has had to make across-the-board cuts in funding at the seven meal sites in Central Oregon.

“We went from a reimbursement of $3.50 per meal, to $3 per meal. That hit us and we had a serious problem,” Apgar said.

The Jefferson County Senior Center had two part-time employees for the meal program, kitchen manager Brenda Rowe, and kitchen assistant Chrisy Sanders-Ortiz, who also handled paperwork.

“Brenda resigned/retired effective May 27, and we promoted Chrisy to manager and increased her time by five hours. This gave us an overall reduction of 15 hours out of 40,” Apgar said.

More volunteers have stepped up to help, including former kitchen manager Louise Muir, who handles building rentals and activities. Helmer Wallan is the SJC president, and Apgar the vice president, but they said younger seniors are needed to help fill officer positions.

The senior center was able to balance its MOW budget without cutting back on services to seniors. “We still have enough money to buy meals from the prison kitchen, and you can’t beat their cost (to customers),” Apgar said, noting the suggested meal donation is $3.50 for seniors and $4.50 for nonseniors. Meals are provided free for seniors who can’t afford to donate.

However, the number of seniors taking advantage of the meals served onsite at the center, or delivered through MOW has been dropping.

“Some seniors have gone into assisted living, and others just don’t know about it. We’d like to get the word out about what’s offered at the senior center,” Apgar said.

Meals – The Jefferson County Senior center at 860 S.W. Madison St., Madras, offers hot meals onsite three times a week, at 11:30 a.m., on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. Meals On Wheels, delivered to your door, are offered on the same days. Frozen dinners are also available for the weekends for MOW clients.

To join the meal at the center, just show up. For those who can't drive, the CET dial-a-bus runs routes to and from the center every meal day. To sign up for MOW, call the center at 541-475-1148.

Activities -- Weekly activities held at the senior center include: bridge, domino, and pinochle games, veterans services and coffee hour, line dancing, and chairobics. Senior birthdays are celebrated at a monthly birthday lunch.

The center also hosts meetings of the TOPS Club, American Legion and auxiliary, cribbage lessons, and is the site for periodic legal aid services and blood pressure clinics.

Anyone interested in donating to the Jefferson County Meals On Wheels program may send a check to Jefferson County Senior Center, P.O. Box 696, Madras, OR 97741. Note that it is for MOW. For more information, call the center at 541-475-1148.

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