The number of Brick’s senior citizens who relied on the county’s Meals on Wheels program increased in 2016, with over 31,000 meals having been delivered.
Jim Sigurdson, executive director of Meals on Wheels for the county, spoke of the increased number of residents relying on the program at a Brick Township council meeting Tuesday night. He was there to accept a $10,000 grant the township obtained for the program from the federal Community Development Block Grant program.
In 2015, 252 seniors received about 30,000 meals. This year, the number of seniors in the program rose to 261, with over 31,000 meals delivered. The program also hosts able-bodied seniors at the township’s senior center (located at the VFW Post on Adamston Road) and provides transportation for them to get there. Brick’s commitment to the program is impressive, Sigurdson said.
“That service alone saves me over $70,000 a year,” he said, of the transportation provided by Brick. “We’re not just about giving meals. That senior center provides social and recreational service to the people we feed. Those people don’t just sit there, they have something meaningful and fulfilling to do.”
“That meal is the lifeline for so many of the seniors that call Ocean County home,” said Ocean County Freeholder Director Jack Kelly at a recent meeting of the county freeholder board. “With that meal comes a wellness check, someone that will spend some time and listen, a person that may be the only contact this senior will have all day.”
The county recently awarded contracts to continue the program in 2017. The contracts cover “congregate” meals – those served at senior centers like the one on Adamston Road, as well as the traditional Meals on Wheels program. The cost of the congregate meal contract is $782,173 while the home delivered and weekend-holiday meal contracts total $1,819,517.
As of the end of November, 256,000 meals had already been delivered in 2016 county-wide.
“We try to keep people healthy and happy and living in our communities, instead of institutions that cost money,” said Sigurdson. “It costs more for one day’s hospital stay than a year of Meals on Wheels.”
Sigurdson called Brick the “most reliable supporter” of the program.
“The residents of Brick should be proud that you have a mayor and council who supports this program,” he said.
Editor’s Note: Anyone interested in the Meals on Wheels program should visit the service’s website.