Peace Meal program back on track
MATTOON — The Peace Meal program will resume hot lunch deliveries and congregate meal service five days a week starting Oct. 1 for seniors in a 14-county area, according to Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center, which administers the program.
Peace Meal had reduced its service to four days a week due to funding cuts in 2011.
The program provides meal delivery to home-bound seniors and also serves meals at dozens of congregate sites. It has also been providing a fifth meal each Thursday that clients could keep refrigerated and eat cold on Friday if they are unable to heat the food themselves, according to Peace Meal Director Barbra Wylie.
A decision was made to restore the fifth day of delivery service and reopen congregate sites on the fifth day after Sarah Bush Lincoln received a funding commitment for the program through the East Central Illinois Area Agency on Aging for another three years.
Restoring those deliveries and reopening congregate sites for a fifth day is important, Wylie said, because it provides an extra day of someone checking in on a home-bound seniors and an extra day of company for people coming to the congregate sites.
“This is definitely in response to the preferences with our communities,” she said.
The program is managing the extra cost of adding a fifth day of service through an increase in grant funding and through savings in contracts with vendors, Wylie said.
Since 2011, “we’ve worked to streamline our operations through vendor costs, and we have seen improved cost savings through our sponsorship with Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center,” she said.
The cost of the program is rising from $2.5 million for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 to $2.8 million for the coming year. Wylie said. Along with grant funding, the costs is picked up by community contributions and a suggested donation of $3.50 a meal that clients pay.
Peace Meal provides 1,400 meals a day in 14 counties, including Champaign, Clark, Coles, Cumberland, DeWitt, Douglas, Edgar, Ford, Iroquois, Livingston, McLean, Moultrie, Piatt and Shelby.