Upon reading the article published June 18, I was pleased by the news that the Montpelier City Council has approved an appropriation to provide $7,000 toward the $20,000 budget shortfall faced by the meal program of the Montpelier Senior Activity Center. I feel that this shortfall should be read as a sign of the excellence of MSACís meal program, as reflected in its rapidly growing popularity within the senior community of Montpelier and surrounding towns.
As the primary senior service organization operating throughout our region, Central Vermont Council on Aging is the single largest sponsor of the Montpelier Senior Activity Centerís senior meals program, providing a budgeted $35,700 this year through contract with Just Basics.
As alluded to in the article, CVCOA was able to provide $13,000 to cover the majority of the gap when it became clear that the number of meals being served was going to exceed initial projections. Because we are dedicated to encouraging good nutrition for elders in our region, we realized the importance of supporting the center as its program saw successes beyond what we had anticipated.
Providing support for meal services is just one way CVCOA provides support for senior programs. In addition to funding the meals provided at the center to Montpelierís seniors, CVCOA provides meals to more than 1,800 seniors each year by contracting with 14 meal sites throughout central Vermont. Community meals are served to elders who visit these sites, and Meals on Wheels are delivered to those who are less able to travel.
The impact of good nutrition goes well beyond a simple meal. The habit of healthy eating has been shown to improve oneís health in general, enabling those who might otherwise face chronic illness to remain well and stay within their homes and communities, rather than succumb to the need for enhanced care, as at a nursing home facility. According to a recent survey of Meals on Wheels recipients, over 90 percent reported that their quality of life improved and they were better able to remain in their home as a result of the meal services they received.
Further, the social benefits provided by congregate meals at meal sites should not be underestimated. While nourishing food attends to the need of the body, these opportunities for social interaction attend to the needs for friendship and community that we experience as members of this human society.
As the primary senior service organization operating throughout central Vermont, CVCOA offers elders 60 and older and their caregivers a range of services to support their ability to lead healthy, meaningful and dignified lives in their homes and communities. Our staff collaborates with a wide range of organizations to develop and coordinate a comprehensive system that helps promote senior independence.
As the population of Vermont ages, the demand for the services provided by organizations like CVCOA and the senior center continues to rise. There is a parallel need for an increase in the city, state and federal resources directed to these organizations. However, funding from these sources has not kept pace with the growth of demand in recent years. Please join us in advocating for the well-being of all older Vermonters.
If CVCOA can be of assistance to you or your loved ones, please visit www.cvcoa.org or call our Senior HelpLine at 800-642-5119.
Beth Stern is executive director of the Central Vermont Council on Aging.MORE IN Commentary
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