A public hearing was held at 11:00 a.m., Tuesday, June 5, 2012, at the Cunningham Community Center. Rozie O’Brien, Executive Director of Aging Products, Inc., the company which provides the services of Friendship Meals and Meals on Wheels to this community, stated that unless the Cunningham community could show an increase in support for the program, the Friendship Meals site in Cunningham would be shut down October 1, 2012.
The program currently receives 12% of its funding from the State of Kansas, 22% from local government (mainly the county), and the balance from fund-raisers, business and private donations, as well as contributions from those who benefit from the meals. The Friendship Meals and Meals on Wheels programs currently average 7 meals per day, with some days seeing only two meals served at the Community Center with several delivered to the homes of Meals on Wheels participants. O’Brien stated that for the program to survive in Cunningham, the average number of meals served per day must be 19 or 20.
The program closed in Sylvia on May 1. There are two or three other sites in the area served by Aging Products, Inc. that face closure this fall. Citing reasons for closing the Cunningham site, O’Brien gave the following: The program has seen no increase in state funding and none is anticipated. Staff at the Hutchinson office has been reduced from six to three. Fuel costs to deliver the meals to the Community Center have increased. Food costs continue to increase, especially meat. The numbers served in Cunningham do not cover the expenses.
How can we save the program? “Commitment.”
If the Cunningham community wishes to continue this service, members of the community will need to make a commitment to do so. The goal of 19 or 20 meals served daily can be reached with commitment and effort. O’Brien noted that if every one of the 43 people who signed up for a meal Tuesday would make a commitment to participate once or twice a week, the program could be saved. Carry-out meals count and many meals can be frozen. Monthly calendars are available at the Community Center listing the menu for each day. The menu for the coming week is printed in the Kingman and Cunningham newspapers. Call Ellen Larson at the Community Center, 298-2555 or at home, 298-3088, to order a meal of for more information. The suggested donation for those over 60 is $3.00, for those under 60, $4.50. Donations for the program are welcome. O’Brien stated that money raised in Cunningham would help the Cunningham program.
The bottom line is this: The program in Cunningham will cease to exist October 1, 2012, unless the community support rises significantly.