Senior nutrition program may expand in Jefferson County
by Dennis Sharkey
A pilot program started locally in Oskaloosa to address the eating habits of seniors may be expanding due to the success.
Jocelyn Lyons, executive director of the Jayhawk Area Agency on Aging (JAAA), told Jefferson County Commissioners on Monday that the pilot program in Oskaloosa has been so successful that her agency is currently negotiating with another provider to begin service in the county. She did not disclose the location.
The program, choosing healthy appetizing meal plan senior solutions (CHAMPSS) has about 75 enrollees in and around Oskaloosa.
The program gives seniors vouchers to use at Rosie’s Downtown Cafe. The seniors are encouraged to leave a donation for the meal. The rest of the costs are subsidized by the program.
“We’re very proud of it,” Lyons said.
Fiscal Manager Jean Stueve told commissioners that a focus of the program in the last year has been to increase the amount of the donations. Stueve said in the last year the average donation amount has gone from $0.30 a meal to $2.15.
Stueve said the program’s goal is not only to get seniors eating a healthy meal but to also get them out of their houses and active in the social community. Some seniors are recognizing the value of the program.
“More participants are saying, ‘Yes, I need to kick in and contribute. I’m glad to kick in and contribute,’” Stueve said. “It’s better than the ‘I’m getting a free meal for nothing,’ attitude.”
Lyons said seniors also feel like they are contributing to the community more through the program.
“They also know that they are supporting their small businesses,” Lyons said. “And that’s very important.”
The program is not new and did not begin in Jefferson County but the local success is spreading. Lyons said she will be off soon to speak to a delegation in New Mexico about the program.
“It’s growing nationwide,” Lyons said.
The Meals on Wheels program may go through some expanding as well. Lyons said a program that delivers meals via a commercial delivery service to rural areas is also possibly in the works.
The JAAA is comprised of Douglas, Shawnee and Jefferson counties. They are supported by funds from all three counties plus the cities of Lawrence and Topeka.
Lyons said the agency has been expanding locally and they now have an office in Oskaloosa.
Although the agency and the programs JAAA provides are growing, Lyons is requesting level funding for next fiscal year.
In other actions:
• County commissioners heard from rural Perry resident Carole Hendrix about concerns with the Big Slough Bridge on Ferguson Road.
Hendrix is concerned about the striping or lack thereof on the bridge and requested that no passing zone signs be installed 100 feet from each side of the bridge.
• Commissioners approved a $50 application fee for liquor permits for special events.
They also approved a siren permit.
Commissioners also approved the permit for Old Settlers’ Reunion wine tent.
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