Housebound senior citizens will likely get their hot holiday meals after all.
Milestones Area Agency of Aging announced in late August that because of budget constraints, the agency was ending its 30-year program of delivering meals to Scott County seniors on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's.
But Bill Brownson, owner of a senior-oriented business called Home Helpers of Scott County and a 10-year meal delivery volunteer, didn't want to see that happen.
He approached Milestones and the Center for Active Seniors, Davenport, and worked out an arrangement that will allow the program to continue, provided the community responds with donations to buy food.
Brownson said he needs to raise about $6,000 to buy food for a total of about 1,200 meals that will be delivered to an average of 400 seniors over the three holidays.
To do this, he is sending out "ask" letters to various businesses and people he knows. CASI will be the fiscal agent, making the donations tax-deductible, and the agency also will build the list of people needing meals, picking up names through its advocacy program, Brownson said.
Sodexo, the company that handles food service at St. Ambrose University, Davenport, has agreed to continue providing volunteers to cook and package the meals, he said.
Brownson said he is taking on the program "because it needed to be done."
"Home Helpers is happy to continue this tradition of bringing a smile and a hot meal to those seniors who can't get out and do not have family to be with," he said in a written news release. "We see the need every day when providing in-home services."
Milestones has sent postcards to past participants informing them of the change and how to request a meal for this year.
In announcing its decision to end the program in August, Milestones said the program typically sustained itself through donations from area businesses, churches and other organizations, but that donations had declined as the need had continued to grow.
"With flat to decreased funding from state/federal (sources), it was getting harder and harder to cover these extra expenses," Peggy Dykes, director of community relations for Milestones, said in an email.