Despite the chaos caused by a late-noticed county meals program cancellation, the Stoughton Area Senior Center is using its resources to keep them going, at least temporarily.
The Stoughton Area Senior Center is one of more than a dozen in the area that had been served by a county contract - most recently with Verona-based Little John’s Kitchen - until owner and chef Dave Heide announced on Monday, Jan. 23 the kitchen would suspend operations, citing a lack of funding and space.
Senior center director Cindy McGlynn told the Hub last week that they were informed of the suspension of Little John’s contract with the county on Tuesday, Jan. 24, and had to come up with a plan to make and deliver dozens of meals the next day.
“That food gets delivered here every day, and we have volunteers who individually package it up and we send it out to anywhere from 90 to 100 people a day,” she said. “That has completely gone away.”
Little John's got the county contract at the beginning of the year, but has come under some criticism for its service.
“It was difficult from the start,” McGlynn said.
However, unlike some other senior centers in the county, Stoughton is able to better manage, McGlynn said, as it has a licensed kitchen and on-site nutrition site coordinator who’s also a licensed chef.
“So she is able to make food that we are now providing for people; sending out with Meals on Wheels and then also for our congregate people to eat here,” she said. “Some of the other senior centers aren't in the same position as we are. We’re trying not to have any disruption in service.”
That doesn’t mean the center can continue those services indefinitely, though. Fortunately, as of now, it looks like they will only need to continue for another few weeks, as a former county food vendor is returning Feb. 13 to provide services through the end of March.
“This has created a huge task, (and) we don't have the capacity to do this all the time, but for this crisis emergency need, we are making it work,” McGlynn said. “So between now and the end of March, the county will put out a new (vendor proposal) and hopefully get another caterer to take those responsibilities,” she said.
In the meantime, McGlynn said the center can use volunteers and funding to help get through this tough stretch.
“If people want to make donations to the senior center to help with this emergency need, that's great,” she said. “The county is going to provide some funding, but certainly won't be all of it. And we’re always looking for volunteers.
I really want people to know we always take seriously the care and service that we provide to our most frail and isolated older adults, and this is what that program really serves, so I just want to have everybody know we're taking this crisis seriously and doing the best we can.”