United Way Spotlight

United Way Spotlight An agency which receives funding from United Way of Vermilion will be featured in this spotlight each week. The United Way of Vermillion Board of Directors wants you, the people of Vermillion to know more about the agencies that receive United Way funding and the services which they provide to the Vermillion community.

This week's featured agency is the Dakota Senior Meals Program of the Rural Office of Community Services, Inc. of Lake Andes, South Dakota, which administers the senior nutrition program through Vermillion's Senior Citizen Center.

The Dakota Senior Meals Program is designed to serve seniors over the age of 60. Spouses of persons over 60 are also able to eat for a donation. Handicapped persons under the age of 60 and a guardian are able to eat for a donation as are people living in a housing development designed for the elderly. Currently the Vermillion meals program serves a daily average of 66 clients.

Hot, nutritious noon meals are served five days a week at the Vermillion Senior Citizen Center. Each meal meets 1/3 of the recommended daily allowance and special diets are available. Home delivered meals, "Meals on Wheels," are available for individuals who are home bound.

Each weekday, meals are prepared from scratch at the Vermillion Senior Citizen Center by Delores Gregg who is employed by the Dakota Senior Meals Program. Some of these meals are packaged into individual containers for those on home delivery. The dining room of the center is set up to accommodate those coming in to eat. Desserts and salads are self-serve while the main entr�e is served cafeteria style at noon. Social time is available before and after the meal and seniors are encouraged to remain after the meal to participate in the activities sponsored by the center.

The Dakota Senior Meals Program can provide nutritious meals to an older adult for an entire year (five days a week) for the cost of one day's stay in the hospital.

In fiscal year 1999-2000, the program is serving 38 meals per day at the center and 28 meals per day are delivered. This means a projected total of 17,000 meals for the one year period.

The total cost of preparing a meal in Vermillion is $4. This is the price paid by those persons under the age of 60. Persons over the age of 60 and their spouses are able to eat for a suggested donation. Currently the suggested donation for all persons over the age of 60 is $2 per meal. Over the past year the program's administrator, Tamela Matuska, has noticed an increase in the number of clients who are unable to pay the full suggested donation.

The Nutrition Program also provides and distributes blizzard meals to senior citizens. Blizzard meals can be heated without electricity thus helping seniors to survive harsh winter weather when they cannot get to the Senior Citizen Center or meals cannot be delivered to their homes.

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