After 40 years of serving meals to homebound seniors in Milford, the Modern Maturity Center is searching for a new partner.
Modern Maturity Center president and CEO Carolyn Fredricks said the Milford Senior Center, which has been working with Modern Maturity on Meals on Wheels, is “going in a different direction.”
Fredricks has been working at the Modern Maturity Center since 1973. She was there when the program started and said she was surprised by their decision.
“I have to say I was extremely disappointed because they had been our partner for a long time,” she said.
Fredricks said the Modern Maturity Center has until the end of December to make other plans.
Since the partnership began, Modern Maturity Center has been cooking the food while the Milford Senior Center provides a base of operations. The food is then packed into smaller containers and distributed to an estimated 120 homebound seniors.
Fredricks said she wants the program to stay in the area because it allows people to age in place and stay out of nursing homes.
“People are able to live longer if they are able to be in their own home environment,” Fredricks said. “We want them to stay at home. We want to be there to provide that meal for them because that meal many times is what determines if they can stay there.”
According to Fredricks, the costs of three years receiving Meals on Wheels is the equivalent of paying for one month in a nursing home.
Officials at the Milford Senior Center still support Meals on Wheels, but are responding to the suggestions of its community.
“Our seniors have requested that we provide different and on-site cooked meals,” said executive director Daphne Bumbrey. “The food served at MMC is delicious, but the cooked food being on a truck for an estimate of three hours caused our seniors to complain and request a change,” she said.
Bumbrey also said the Milford Senior Center is trying to free up space in its kitchen so it can prepare its own meals. She said she values Meals on Wheels, but it’s something the center can no longer accommodate.
“Due to the small size of our kitchen and conflict in times for the future preparation of our lunches and Meals on Wheels preparing their outgoing meals, we have to compromise and make some changes,” Bumbrey said.
Meals on Wheels is supported under the Older Americans Act as a Titile III nutrition program, administered by the Division of Health and Social Services.
So far, Fredricks has reached out to churches and other volunteer organizations. She said churches are a good starting point because they often have room and are community service oriented. She said she understands they are often busy, especially with Code Purple services coming up, but she feels they will benefit by working with Meals on Wheels.
“Churches have a heart for the community,” she said. “This is a tremendous outreach opportunity for them. If we have an area where we can serve older people right in their multipurpose room that could bring some potential new people into their church.”
Meals on Wheels serves all of Kent County. It has programs in Smyrna, the Mamie Warren Senior Center in Kenton, Harrington Senior Center and Luther Towers in Dover.
Fredricks said she’s going to make sure the 120 homebound seniors receive their meals.
“The Modern Maturity Center is responsible for feeding every homebound client in Kent County who needs a meal and we’re going to do it one way or the other,” she said.