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Today's word on journalism

January 13, 2009

Breakneck:

"I get the feeling that the 24-hour news networks are like the bus in the movie 'Speed.' If they stop talking for a second, they think they'll blow up."

--Jon Stewart, The Daily Show, 2008 (Thanks to alert WORDster Ross Martin)

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Meals on Wheels: 'So no senior goes hungry'

By Jake Ipson

December 10, 2008 | Volunteers are driving cars full of what looks like really big lunch boxes, and in some ways that is just what these Meals on Wheels are.

Volunteers will deliver a nice, hot, full course meal through the Meals on Wheels program, to elderly residents of Cache Valley. Today, recipients will be getting a beef and vegetable stew with a green salad, peaches, whole wheat roll, brownie, and milk. The Meals on Wheels program helps to insure that they are getting proper nutrition.

County Executive Lynn Lemon became a strong believer in the Meals on Wheels program after he volunteered his services one day. He had family members involved with the program and was a little skeptical. but quickly became a believer in the goodness of the program.Tom Hogan, director of the Cache County Senior Citizens Center says, "Even on your worst day come and serve." Tom really appreciated Lemon coming in and giving his time to help with Meals on Wheels.

Although the food may be great and the program might be nice, who guarantees that the seniors will eat the meals? This is a concern Heather Davis has.

Davis is a student at Utah State University studying to become a nurse and has volunteered at a nursing home in St. George, Utah. She says that she has heard stories of people passing away and once they go to clean out the house and the fridge, they find it full of meals from Meals on Wheels.

The fact of the matter is there are thousands of senior citizens throughout the entire United States that suffer from being hungry. Even though Meals on Wheels can not guarantee that recipients will eat the food, irs mission is, "Millions of seniors go hungry every day; we are here so no senior goes hungry."

So what are the criteria to receive Meals on Wheels? Kris Albretsen, an employee at the Senior Center for the past 21 years, says a person must be homebound and unable to fix a meal themselves. The program is funded by the federal and state government, the county, and some donations.

Hogan said they have received about $115,000 in donations this year and the county has paid about $260,000 towards programs such as Meals on Wheels and assisted living facilities in the county.

One of Lynn Lemon's fears is that federal and state funding will remain at a flat level while the need for increased funding continues to rise. In the past four years, funding from the county has risen from $60,000 to $260,000. The county has an agreement to match 20 percent of the funds from the federal government.

Hogan says that about 10 percent of the valley's population is senior citizens, and 12 percent of that 10 percent receive the Meals on Wheels program. Last year, they served about 1,300 meals to people.

But what if that food is being wasted and not eaten? Heather thinks that the people that deliver the food to the seniors should stay and eat with them.

But Kris claims that the seniors are really appreciative to have the company for however little the time might be. Those people who don't eat the food probably should be in nursing homes anyway. The people that the Senior Center serves can come, eat, and also enjoy recreation at the center, such as quilting and ceramic activities.

Lynn Lemon believes that there needs to be more of an effort to let people stay in their homes rather than place them in a nursing home. He said that the way things work right now, if someone cannot afford their living arrangements and need help, the state will take their house and their possessions, then pay for them to live in a nursing home. Lemon believes if the state were to let seniors stay in their homes and pay for Meals on Wheels, it would be beneficial and cheaper to the state, allowing the seniors to remain independent.

When Kris was asked what she thought about Lemon trying to make the Meals on Wheels program bigger, she thought that was a great idea but her only concern was the need for volunteers. She said, "It can be a struggle to find volunteers sometimes. If we had the volunteers, it would be fine."

The Senior Center is always looking for volunteers to help with the program. The volunteers are trained for emergencies and other situations that may occur during time of service. If you are interested in helping to serve in the Meals on Wheels program, they are located at 240 N. 100 East in Logan, or you can reach Tom Hogan at 755-1720. Like Tom said, "come and serve even on your worst day."

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