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A meal that's priceless
By Roger Suters, Elder Services Community Services Planner
Elder Services serves more than 1,000 meals a day to Berkshire elders in return for a suggested donation of $2.00 a meal, which is voluntary. The elders who receive these hot, nutritious meals find them priceless.
Homebound elders 60 and over can have Meals on Wheels delivered to their doors. Other elders enjoy weekday lunches with friends and neighbors at a nearby Council on Aging senior meal site, or at Providence Court or the Jewish Community Center, both in Pittsfield.
Voluntary contributions represent a very important source of funding for the Meals on Wheels program. In addition to federal/state government funding and donations raised through community fundraising efforts, voluntary contributions are essential to the continued availability of Meals on Wheels to those who need them. Each meal costs $5.96 and each weekday (except for holidays) 1,000 meals are prepared at the Elder Services kitchen in Lanesboro — almost 800 are delivered by a team of 34 drivers to those at home and more than 200 delivered to 14 meal sites around the Berkshires. Donations cover almost 20% of the total cost of each meal.
In an effort to highlight the importance of the $2.00 donation, woodworking volunteers at the Ralph Froio Senior Center in Pittsfield constructed 14 cash boxes to be used at each meal site. The cash box is located at each meal site in such a way as to provide participants the opportunity to provide their donation confidentially. On March 22 at the monthly Elder Services’ Nutrition Project Office meeting, each participant presented the handiwork that went into decorating each box. Creativity, enthusiasm, and an interesting story brought to light the fun that went into each entry. In a not-so-scientific process, first place was awarded to Gt. Barrington, second place to Providence Court, and third place to Becket. As everyone agreed, the real winners are the seniors who enjoy the Elder Services Meals on Wheels at home and at the senior meal sites around the county. As Don Bragdon, Elder Services Site Director in Williamstown pointed out, those who attend Harper Senior Center's meal program have indicated, “At $2.00 a meal — it’s a real bargain.”