With budget cuts at both the federal and state level, local senior citizen centers will be taking the brunt of a reduction that, according to Thayne Senior Center director Jim Bagshaw, will have a significant impact on the area elderly. “It boils down to debt reduction,” he said. “Instead of using a scalpel, they are using a meat axe. So as a result we will see a decrease of about a 20 percent decrease in our meal program.” Bagshaw is scheduled to sit in on conference calls this week to hopefully gain answers about what appears to be a subjective approach. I’m interested to know why some [centers] took a ten percent and we have to take 20 [percent]”.
The Thayne center is currently able to spend $4.01 per meal for seniors. The impending cuts will drop that total to a mere $2.52.
“[It] covered our raw food cost,” Bagshaw added. “Now that means we will be forced to find different ways of funding this or finding a way to economizing on quality, which is something we don’t want to do.”
The Thayne center is a meal machine during the spring and summer months, serving 150 plates on a typical day with surges as high as 200. But according to Bagshaw, the numbers have been steadily climbing since October with a 40 percent increase, detailing the need some area seniors have for the meal program.
“We are not only facing increased seasonal traffic, but the funding is being decreased,” he added. “We are stuck with what they give us. Ultimately, letting go of employees in the future is on the table which then reduces services and ability to serve meals.”
The cuts will also affect the Salt River Center in Afton where director Connie Jenkins knows that they will now have to count on area generosity.
“We will just have to buckle down with our staff,” she said. “We have 42 home deliveries per day on average with more in the building. We’ll just have to be vigilant in our fundraising and ask the community to help us along.”
Jenkins did mention that the Afton center was one of the fortunate ones who received a grant from the Daniels Fund.
For many who utilize the Thayne center, the meal they receive is by far the best they can expect during the day.
“This especially affects the ones that are delivered to their home,” Bagshaw concluded. “ There are some who can easily afford it and it won’t be a big problem, but there is a segment that really need the service.”