Can The Sage Nutrition Program Continue?

Prowers County Courthouse

The Sage Nutrition Board, comprised of commissioner representatives of the six southeast Colorado counties, is having doubts that Sage Nutrition can continue to provide meals for shut-ins and the elderly. 

Too much money is going out and not enough money is coming in to continue to operate effectively, according to the Prowers County Commissioners.

Commissioner Gene Millbrand remarked that new figures for this past May have shown that revenues are continuing to decrease.  The program can function for another year, he said, because the state accepted the Board’s Request for Proposal, but it’s only a stop-gap measure.  People using the program are not contributing enough for the meals to cover the costs associated with a staff to cook and deliver the meals in the six counties.  Millbrand said, “Right now, the program is in the red for $45,000 and cost cutting measures that were enacted in April and May helped somewhat, but not enough.”  He added, “ Despite the media attention and in-person explanations at the various food centers, the amount of users decreased by 4%, but at the same time, the amount of contributions dropped 26%, when we were hoping for a 20% increase!”  Millbrand said that because of the time the messages were issued, there may not have been enough response time for people to get accustomed to the need for increased contributions. 

The federal government payment of $52,000 has been slow in coming, but will arrive this June, to offset the $45,000 deficit, but Millbrand explained, “That gives us some breathing room to pull even, but there will not be any more federal funding for the rest of the year, and we still have next year to operate.”  Federal regulations prohibit the board from directly charging recipients for payment of the meals.  They are free to contribute what they desire.  This past May, 6,000 congregate meals were served from various locations in the counties.  The average contribution per meal was $2.05.  Also in May, 8,000 meals were delivered and the average payment per meal was $1.11, or $1.38 per meal overall.  It costs Sage Nutrition $5.86 to prepare and serve a meal.  Millbrand said more cutbacks are being considered above what occurred this past spring.  He also said there have been tentative discussions with two potential food suppliers that would do all of the food work except to serve and deliver the meals.  Nothing concrete has come from those brief discussions.

County Commissioner Joe Marble added, “There is a continued need for persons to volunteer to help with home meal deliveries.”  The need exists through all the six counties, not just Prowers.  “All someone has to do here in Prowers County is just show up at the SOS Center and let them know they’re interested.  All you need is a regular driver’s license,” he said. 

By Russ Baldwin


Filed Under: BusinessCommissionerscommunityCountyEconomyHealth


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