Heartland to cease congregate meals in four communities

Marlys BarkerNevada
Journal Editor

Because of declining attendance over the past several years, Heartland Senior Services has decided to close its congregate meal sites in Nevada, Story City, Colo and Huxley, effective July 1.

Nancy Carroll, director of Heartland Senior Services for Story County, said the declines are being seen throughout America, and Story County is no different. “On average, the attendance at the four sites (being closed) ranges from four (at the Huxley site) to eight people (at the other three sites) per day,” she said.

Funding for the program, which is for anyone 60 years old and older, has come from a combination of participants’ donations for meals and from federal and local funding, like from United Way. The funding support, Carroll said, comes to about $3 per meal. “However, it costs us around $8 per meal (to provide them), so we lose on average, $2 per meal,” she said, noting that participant donations average about $3 a meal. So this funding loss has been another program in trying to keep the rural sites open.

Congregate meals will still be offered at the Ames site, 205 South Walnut, where an average of 20-25 people attend per day, Monday through Friday.

“Anyone 60 and above is welcome to come to this site,” Carroll said. HIRTA offers transportation to congregate meals for a suggested donation of $1 each way.

“It’s the fellowship that they really enjoy,” Carroll said of the importance of the congregate meals program. She hopes that because the meals in Nevada, Huxley and Colo are held at the communities’ senior centers, the people who attend will continue to take part in other meals and fellowship that take place at those sites.

The last day for congregate meals outside of Ames will be Friday, July 1. Those who qualify will still receive Heartland’s home-delivered meals, Carroll said.