Included in the millions of dollars in the Douglas County budget is an allocation for $31,442 that county officials hope will yield significant returns in the lives of north county senior citizens.
County commissioners on Wednesday approved a new part-time position which will result in a nutrition program to provide hot meals twice a week for senior citizens.
Indian Hills General Improvement District Manager John Lufrano told the board during budget hearings that the meals program was “a stepping stone to allowing more senior programs in the area.”
Fifteen hands went up when Lufrano asked the audience who was there to support the budget request which will fund a part-time position to coordinate the program.
“We understand your budgetary issues. We struggle with those things ourselves,” Lufrano said.
Sunridge resident Christine Buch said she worked 15 years in senior care before she retired.
“I know how important it is to keep seniors fed and socially active. We feel very strongly this is very much needed,” she said.
Buch said she and other volunteers provide transportation from northern Douglas County to the Gardnerville center to bring seniors to lunch during the week.
Community Services Director Scott Morgan told commissioners the program would be similar to services offered three times a week to seniors in Topaz Ranch Estates.
He said the five-year-old TRE program has grown from 10-15 seniors to twice that number.
“It evolved from a pure nutrition program to a social program. We know nutrition is really important to sustain the quality of life,” Morgan said.
The part-time position funded through existing resources was made possible with a change in the contingency policy and a decrease in the match for the DART transportation program.
Commissioner Greg Lynn said while he disliked budgeting programs based on grant funding or “found money,” he felt the nutrition program “was worth the risk.”
“I look at senior services as higher cost avoidance,” he said, explaining the programs would serve to keep seniors healthy.
Paul Lockwood, a member of the Senior Services Advisory Council and Young at Heart, said there were 2,000 north county residents age 65 and older.
“It’s about time we do provide for them,” he said.
Morgan said Thursday the program would begin in mid-to-late July, after the new fiscal year.
He said residents who are interested in volunteering to help with carpooling or serving should contact the senior center to participate in a training program which includes background checks.
Seniors who wish to take advantage of the nutrition program are asked to contact the general improvement district or the senior center.
“It helps us a lot to know how many people want to take part in the lunch program,” Morgan said.
Reservations aren’t mandatory, but he said it assists planning.
“This has really been made possible because of the new senior center coming in,” Morgan said. “The kitchen capacity in the new center supports it. We will have the new building and a new capacity.”