MEALS Program looks to close $50,000 funding gap - KOTA Territory News

MEALS Program looks to close $50,000 funding gap

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Roughly one-in-seven seniors around the country goes hungry every day.

Meals on Wheels programs aim to get food to seniors who can't leave their homes, but with costs rising and funding dropping off, the Rapid City MEALS Program is being creative in its fundraising efforts.

That's where Saturday's second-annual Carve Out Hunger fundraiser at Main Street Square comes in.
 
"We plan on raising, hopefully, $20,000 to $30,000," said MEALS Program community resource coordinator Marcia Mayer.
 
But that's only a chunk of the group's deficit.
 
"We're $50,000 in the hole."

Mayer said volunteers deliver about 800 meals every day in western South Dakota, including about 170 in Rapid City, plus another 200 to local congregate dining halls like senior centers.

It costs the program about $7.50 to make and deliver each meal, and that adds up fast, especially with state and federal funding slowly melting away.
 
"As we have an aging population," said MEALS board member Jim Jeffries, "we foresee a greater need for our services rather than a diminishing need."
 
That's why board he said the program is forced to rely more on fundraisers like Saturday night's $20-a-plate steak dinner at the VFW.
 
"Fortunately, Rapid City has some very generous people that have stepped up to the plate and helped us out significantly," Jeffries said.
 
But that won't last forever, and it could mean some difficult choices.
 
"If you have a site that the numbers dwindle down to three, four, five people" to deliver meals to, he said, "you'll have to consider closing down sites."
 
Jeffries anticipates having to look at that option within the next year, but it's not at option anyone wants to accept.
 
"A lot of times," said Mayer, "we're the only people that the seniors see and we're the only meal that they receive."

The MEALS Program will hold another fundraiser, a pancake breakfast at the VFW, on Feb. 10.
 
And if you'd like to donate or volunteer to deliver meals once a week, call the MEALS Program at 605-394-6002 or visit mealsprogram.com.

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