An opportunity waiting

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By Cheryl Wilkinson

PREVIEW Columnist

As our community has grown, ASI has been working hard to keep up with the demand for meals and supplemental food in our area. Funding and staffing levels do not always match need, here or elsewhere in the country. The New York Times reported on April 10 that “in Charlotte, N.C., and nine surrounding counties, for example, the waiting list for Meals on Wheels averaged about 1,200 people.” 

In our county, so far we have been able to keep up and have not wait-listed Meals on Wheels requests. But this is not a given — funding always lags behind demand. The demand for meals in our service area has nearly doubled in the last year, with little sign of letting up. Program funding directly supports our neighbors, co-workers and our community as a whole.

COVID relief packages send nutrition program funds into our area. These funds are not “extra” monies. Instead, they make up for funding shortfalls that have been growing year-on-year since 2014 here in Pagosa and Archuleta County. Even with foundation funding and private donors, without the emergency COVID funding, we would not have been able to meet area need last year or this year.

To ensure that we’re serving as many people as possible, ASI works in close cooperation with local and regional services agencies, funding partners and community advisors. These partners help us to identify underserved areas. We then adjust our outreach and work to secure funding, staff, volunteers and delivery options to expand into those areas.

Our SIMPLE Nutrition is an example of expansion to meet need. SIMPLE Nutrition was piloted in 2015-2016. It provides targeted, supplemental nutrition, support and counseling — key support that eligible adults 60 and better in our community can receive in addition to Meals on Wheels and congregate meals. This program has been very successful, providing good nutrition beyond the mid-day meal and through the weekends for eligible adults 60 and better.

Our website provides information about ASI programs here in Pagosa Springs, as well as resources for wellness and aging. You can also use our website to make reservations with The Community Café for take-out and Meals on Wheels at: http://www.psseniors.org/.

Meals on Wheels
volunteers needed

The Pagosa Springs Senior Center Meals on Wheels program delivers approximately 3,000 fresh and frozen meals a year. We deliver fresh Meals on Wheels five days a week (and provide frozen Meals on Wheels for weekends) to homebound Archuleta County residents to help them stay healthy and independent in their own homes. 

This program is vitally important because many seniors have little to no access to nutritious meals. They are often too frail or have health complications that prevent them from preparing meals for themselves or from using the Senior Center’s Community Café drive-thru meals pick-up site Monday though Friday. 

The Senior Center needs volunteer Meals on Wheels Drivers for one day a week (or become part of our substitute driver team). Please join us as part of our driver team and build wonderful relationships with the seniors in our community. Call (970) 264-2167.

Dishes and china

Have old dishes or china that you no longer want to use or store? The Community Café is accepting donations of old dishes or china. Please call (970) 264-2167 for more information or to donate.

Take-out meals continue at Senior Center

In order to continue providing meals, the Senior Center is offering take-out hot meals and a salad with a drive-up option under the portico at the Ross Aragon Community Center. 

These meals will be available Monday through Friday between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. There is a $4 suggested donation for lunch for those age 60 and better. If you need to have your meal delivered, please call (970) 264-2167 to see if this option is available in your area. 

The cost per meal for the public age 59 and under is $8.50. The meals include a salad, hot meal, drink and dessert or bread. 

Please call (970) 264-2167 to make a reservation for pickup. We are also continuing our Meals on Wheels program. 

There will be no games, classes or presentations during this time. The staff will be available by phone. If you need to speak to a staff member, please call (970) 264-2167.

The Community
Café menu

Thursday, May 20 — Pork ribs, black beans, milk, salad and banana pudding.

Friday, May 21 — Carrot soup, yellow squash casserole, milk, salad and coconut cake.

Monday May 24 — Chicken piccata, orzo, hot artichoke dip with pita chips, milk, salad and lemon bars.

Tuesday, May 25 — Stir-fried pork, glazed carrots, milk, salad and tapioca pudding.

Wednesday, May 26 — Mediterranean tuna salad sandwich, broccoli salad, milk, salad and chocolate chip cookie.

Thursday, May 27 — Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes, creamed corn, dinner roll with butter, milk and salad. 

Reservations and cancellations are required. You can make a reservation at (970) 264-2167 by 9 a.m. the morning of the day you would like to drive through and pick up a meal. 

For your convenience, you can make your reservations in advance or have a standing reservation on days you know you will always pick up. Please cancel if you cannot attend on your standing reservation days. We want to thank everyone for their support by observing our reservation policy. This helps ensure that everyone with reservations receives a meal and enables us to provide additional and healthier meals.

Due to COVID-19, food supplies have been affected. Substitutions will be made accordingly.