Miami County has been asked to pay its “fair share” for the nutrition program that provides meals to local elderly residents, and county commissioners are considering increasing the funding allocated for the program.

Commissioners discussed the issue during a study session Wednesday, Oct. 2, as they reviewed a recent letter from Elizabeth Maxwell, executive director of the East Central Kansas Area Agency on Aging (ECKAAA).

Last October, ECKAAA took over Mid-America Nutrition Program’s operation. The nutrition program produces 750 meals per day to disburse to its 24 congregate sites, located throughout the counties of Miami, Anderson, Coffey, Franklin, Linn and Osage. About 60 to 65 percent of the meals are home-delivered, primarily by volunteers, through its Meals on Wheels program.

Miami County has three congregate sites, located in Paola, Osawatomie and Louisburg. Miami County averages about 160 meals per day, with about 70 congregate and 90 home-delivered.

Miami County serves 22.7 percent of the meals in the six-county region, and ECKAAA needs to collect $242,766 in total funding from the six counties next year. That puts Miami County’s fair share at $55,108, according to numbers provided by Maxwell.

Miami County is currently paying $28,357 for the program.

The commissioners did not take official action during their meeting Oct. 2, and they said they wanted to get a little more information about what other counties are paying and what strategies ECKAAA plans to use to increase the collection of donations from those who use the program.

Maxwell said the seniors receiving the meals are all told about the costs of the program and asked to make a donation, but she can’t make them pay for the meals.

Because of a lack of donations, ECKAAA faced a $30,000 deficit this year, and Maxwell said she asked each of the six counties to contribute $5,000 to make it up.

The commissioners did not express any issues with that payment, as well as an additional $1,500 payment to provide hot meals to Spring Hill seniors on a daily basis.

Previously, a delivery of frozen meals was made to Spring Hill once a week. Maxwell said Miami County Commissioner Tyler Vaughan, who represents the Spring Hill area, asked her what it would take to get hot meals delivered on a daily basis. The cost would be about $3,000, and the current plan is to split that cost with the city of Spring Hill.

“I look at this as taking care of our elderly, and we have a responsibility to do that,” Vaughan said.

Editor and Publisher Brian McCauley can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or brian.mccauley@miconews.com.

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