Kansas is set to receive more than $800,000 in federal stimulus money for providing meals to lower-income older residents.
Just how effective the funds will be for increasing meal services is unclear, state and local representatives say. The funding will be spread over two years.
“It’s good news. It’s good support for the seniors. It’s not a significant infusion of money over two years,” Kansas Secretary of Aging Kathy Greenlee said.
Another factor in the effectiveness of the funding will be budgeting decisions by the Kansas Legislature.
“There are many things we don’t know yet,” Greenlee said.
Douglas County Senior Services director John Glassman agreed. He doesn’t know how much of the federal money the county will receive.
He hopes it can be used to increase home-delivered and senior meal site services.
“That’s always our struggle,” he said.
Kansas will receive a total of $865,164 over two years.
Of that amount, $285,415 must go to home-delivered meals and $579,749 to congregated meals. Greenlee’s Department on Aging will distribute the funds to Area Agencies on Aging according to a formula.
The funds will then be passed on to local senior services organization.
Greenlee noted that her department’s budget will be subject to legislative review until the Legislature adjourns its session this spring.
The federally funded Older Americans Act for nutrition is budgeted for $7 million. The department has budgeted $3 million for the state-funded in-home nutrition program.
The stimulus funding is in addition to the budget proposal.
So far the Legislature has not made cuts to Greenlee’s nutrition budget proposal. It can’t touch the stimulus funds or reallocate them because the federal government intended them to be new funding for nutrition. But if there are budget cuts, the funds would only be replacing what was lost.
Glassman noted that Senior Services also gets funding from Douglas County government and there is always a risk that additional cuts could come at the local level.
A total of $295,000 was allocated for senior meals for 2009.
“I just hope we don’t lose sight of what that money is supposed to do,” Glassman said of the stimulus. “If we get a chance to improve what we’re doing here, we should take advantage of it.”
Senior Services would like to expand its meal-site services.
There are currently six locations in the county where seniors can get a noon meal. There are three in Lawrence and one each in Eudora, Baldwin City and Lecompton.
Senior Services also has been able to keep up with demand for home-delivered meals but can always get requests from new residential areas that people have moved to, Glassman said.
“We’ve been able to work in people who call in, and that’s always a tightrope,” he said.