Letter to the editor: senior meals


seniorslpTo:  Inyo County Board of Supervisors

From: Mo Monroe, Asst. Cook, Lone Pine Senior Center

The rumor mill continues to churn out tidbits…here’s the latest I have heard.  The Board of Supes has pretty much decided to “continue” the meals-on-wheels program with only “minor” changes. They prefer to provide one hot meal per week to clients, instead of four, with the remaining four meals each week being frozen meals cooked and packaged locally by the Bishop and Lone Pine kitchens. The meals at the Senior Centers will still be provided five days per week, with one day per week no longer being voluntary donation, rather,  a mandatory fee for that meal.  Sounds a bit drastic to me, and here’s what I suggest in lieu of those options, realizing that the deficit of the County General Fund may not be  reduced as greatly as desired by the Board in the immediate future.

  1. Provide five meals per week instead of the seven meals currently offered. Including both the Bishop and Lone Pine meals-on-wheels routes, this is a significant reduction
  2. Deliver three hot meals per week to meals-on-wheels recipients, with recipients receiving two frozen meals for the the other two days per week when deliveries aren’t being made. This will immediately reduce costs in food packaging supplies, as the fresh fruit and juices that accompany these meals come pre-packaged.
  3. Continue Senior Center congregate meals as they currently are, voluntary donation only. These groups of people getting together socially are extremely special and should be preserved as sacrocanct!
  4. Implement County-wide bulk purchasing of foodstuffs and supplies for all county operations that supply food (and packaging thereof) to county residents (including inmates).

Speaking of gradual implementation in little-tiny-baby-steps, as I have before, why not let the ESAAA kitchens provide one meal per day to the County Jail? We are up to the task. This could be delivered hot, cold, or frozen, and consumed immediately or stored at the jail until required…

I believe that with the reduced number of meals being provided, the reduced hours of labor being paid for (less driving days), and the reduction in food and supply costs, the savings to the County General Fund will surprise you!  Euphemisms like “Service Redesign” should actually include some design work, and not just be another way of saying cutting services!

I respectfully ask you, Board of Supervisors, should our county inmates at the County Jail be entitled to three “hot” meals per day while our most vulnerable, venerable Senior Citizens are only entitled to one hot meal per week? Realllly???


12 Responses to Letter to the editor: senior meals

  1. Grant July 1, 2014 at 9:10 pm #

    Another thing to consider is that a huge pay off of these programs is the social interaction the seniors get while going to get a meal. I see a lot of seniors that go 50% to eat and 50% to interact because they don’t have that in their lives or wouldn’t without the hot served lunches. Save the program which helps save the seniors.

  2. Desert Tortoise June 30, 2014 at 4:13 pm #

    Consider the opportunities for corruption, fraud and lobbying associated with subsidizing meals at commercial eateries. Also consider that there will inevitably be complaints that those discounts are buying luxury meals that some angry taxpayer cannot afford. Take the problems associated with food stamps, real and perceived, and extrapolate them to subsidizing meals at restaurants.

  3. Desert Tortoise June 29, 2014 at 10:43 am #

    Here is a question. Do seniors pay the County for these meals or not? When I set my father up with Meals on Wheels it wasn’t free. I see no reason in the world a senior who has a retirement income and/or Social Security cannot pay for their food. I understand the benefits of having seniors who are mobile socializing and sharing a meal together each day, and for Meals on Wheels to visit each shut in senior’s home every day, not just five days a week, as a welfare check on the senior and to show them a human face every day. But it is hardly an imposition to expect those seniors who have money to pay the full price of their food.

    • Ken Warner June 29, 2014 at 12:17 pm #

      Being mobile enough to get to senior centers for meals is a whole different deal than a shutin, immobile senior. If that person is a shutin, he should get special treatment every day. The rest can meet at a restaurant unless they are really broke. Then a little help with meals is absolutely fair and reasonable and a cost that should be born by the society.. And if the local restaurants have any social consciousness, then they can give senior discounts.


      • Desert Tortoise June 29, 2014 at 5:26 pm #

        Ken, not all of the Meals on Wheels customers are poor. My father had a darn good income from a city pension. His take home was higher than mine back then. He could afford to eat anything he wanted to. There was no earthly reason he needed a subsidized meal program. His thing was he was getting old and lazy and careless and I figured it was safer if he had his meals delivered to him every day.

        • sugarmagnolia June 29, 2014 at 8:09 pm #

          Yes, the ideal of seniors as poor, barely scraping by people is mostly gone. My grandparents generation worked hard but saw their retirements get completely outpaced by real estate costs and inflation. My parents generation on the other hand bought houses dirt cheap and reaped the benefits of the skyrocketing real estate market. They were the last generation that could not only survive but do well with one parent working. Many are trekking to cooler places than I can ever dream of going.
          Yes, there are still very poor seniors out there, and they deserve help. But to paint the whole group as needy is completely inaccurate.
          Seniors need help due to ambulatory issues, but they should be able to pay, based on a sliding scale, part or all of the cost

        • Ken Warner June 29, 2014 at 9:30 pm #

          For me, I really want to take care of myself for as long as possible.

          For the others who want meals served them, means testing seems reasonable to me. But if you are living below the poverty line, then discounts at the local restaurants seems like a nice thing for a community to do.

          People who really are shutin and immobile — give them help daily. Home care is cheaper than nursing homes and extended care facilities. And people like being at home.

  4. Katie June 27, 2014 at 4:23 pm #

    AMEN Baby!
    Anyone who thinks that the senior citizens who have helped build this community only deserve 1 hot meal a week, well the only thing I can say is SHAME ON YOU! And yes that includes the so called board of supervisors who made this proposal. If you’re not up to the task at hand find someone who IS!

  5. Elimus June 27, 2014 at 3:40 pm #

    The attack on services because of the big equity raises and 6% raise for all county workers continues. Now the dumps are rarely open (everywhere but Bishop), the Senior Meal Program is being reduced, the Library and Museum are being cut (this after the Library took a 27% hit last year).
    Somebody’s head should roll over this. The County doesn’t have a good budget officer in place if he couldn’t forecast this result. There are 18,000 people in Inyo County and probably less than 500 county workers. I don’t know how many tax paying households there are but that would be easy to find out. Why are we the ones that have to suffer for the incompetence of Inyo County leaders? And each person that ends up getting laid off from the County because of these salary increases will affect the little Mom and Pop businesses because that person won’t have a job, won’t be able to purchase goods and services. There will be a cumulative effect throughout the County from lay offs.
    There is a solution, but it starts with the County being willing to admit they made a mistake, and then attempt to rectify it. Don’t make the rest of us suffer.

  6. Philip Anaya June 27, 2014 at 1:43 pm #

    Thank you Ms. Monroe for your excellent letter and the “Mo” better ideas for this “Service Redesign” of the senior meals program. I too hope that the Supes hear your ideas loud and clear . There is a tendency for the Supes to rely on the “administrative staff” for all the solutions but somehow there is always a question about whether they can boil an egg, find a book from a card catalog , get down, dirty and visit a landfill 4-5 times a month, dumping their household waste to understand how well the line workers know their jobs and how their contribution could be beneficial with “Service Redesign”. They say you have to break eggs to make an omlette, so part of this Service Redesign has to acknowledge where it is broken, where are the deficiencies in the process itself. Egos are involved, and Administrators want the recognition of a Board’s approval of a job well done and at the same time isn’t this above getting meals to seniors, providing more services at a less expense and maintaining services that have had a recognition and an evolution of historic development . It is time to have the goal of feeding in this case, seniors and stop wasting time and resources getting options from the fountainhead, whoever that happens to be and listen to real time solutions . The turmoil of poor recommendations and administrative efforts this year in the County has resulted in huge public responses, backtracking and needless contentious issues that the Supes have had to contend. Vital issues have not been resolved or paid sufficient attention such as dry domestic wells and the repetition of last year’s events that may occur this coming Fall. No one in the County has brought the heat to a resolution of Bishop Creek. Just realizing the best ideas about heat that the County has come up with is three hot squares a day for some and only one for some others, indeed.

  7. Ken Warner June 27, 2014 at 11:28 am #

    Has Inyo County thought about trying to get help from the fast food places in the valley? It’s not the greatest food but it will sustain and nourish. And it has a lot of calories which if you are missing meals, can be a real blessing.

  8. Waxlips June 27, 2014 at 10:45 am #

    Mo deserves a raise, comes up with a better solution then all the county heads working on it. Hope you’re listening Board of Supervisors.


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