By Kristen Miller
DASSEL, MN In preparation for federal cuts, Lutheran Social Services is partnering with Dassel Lakeside Health Care Center to streamline the senior dining program in Dassel.
Starting Monday, July 1, congregate senior dining meals and Meals on Wheels for the Dassel community will be served out of Dassel Lakeside. Meals will be delivered as usual by volunteers, though congregate diners will move from the community room at Dassel City Hall to the activity room at Lakeside.
For the congregate diners, this isn’t a change they are excited to make.
Joan Benson has been coming regularly for the past 15 years.
Senior dining allows her to have a warm, balanced meal and interaction with other seniors.
It was disheartening for Benson and the others to hear they would be moving to Dassel Lakeside and therefore losing their server, Nettie Bridge, who has been the site manager in Dassel for nearly five years.
“It was quite a shock,” Benson said
“We really appreciated her,” Benson said of Bridge. “She’s been such a part of our lives for so long, it’s hard to think of her not being there.”
Bridge will also miss serving. “There are a lot of nice people,” she commented of the people she serves.
And simply, Benson commented, seniors don’t like change.
Monica Douglas, director of senior nutrition with the area Lutheran Social Services, said the move is an effort for LSS to create as many efficiencies as possible and target high-nutrition-risk older adults.
Currently, LSS has been transporting meals from Litchfield to Dassel. This will eliminate transportation costs and staff time dedicated to that service.
Douglas noted that it’s part of an effort to trim some costs now before 2014, when LSS will be further impacted with sequestration at the federal level.
The sequester comes after Congress passed a law in 2011, saying if it couldn’t agree on a plan to reduce the federal deficit by $4 trillion including the $2.5 trillion in deficit reduction lawmakers in both parties have already accomplished over the past few years about $1 trillion in automatic, arbitrary, and across-the-board budget cuts would start to take effect in 2013, according to the White House.
Because an agreement was not made, cuts will be made to areas such as after-school programs, jobs in education, and meals for sick and homebound seniors.
Douglas made it clear that senior dining in Dassel will not be eliminated because of this, however, other areas across the state will likely feel the effects of sequestration next year.
Dassel Lakeside Administrator Bill Ward said that senior diners will still have their own space in the activity room to continue their social networking and game time, and the care center will “give them a fine meal in the process.”
Funding for meal service is provided by the Minnesota River Area Agency on Aging for a suggested donation of $3.85- $6.70, or whatever a diner can afford. Any senior age 60 or older is encouraged to participate.
It is requested that meals be ordered one day in advance by calling the kitchen at Lakeside at (320) 275-3308, extension 109. Please call Claudia at (320) 295-9966 with any questions regarding Dassel or Darwin senior dining.