Sage Nutrition on Dollar Diet

The Prowers County Commissioners, along with other county commissioners, have devised short term steps to keep Sage Nutrition operational through June, the end of the current contract with the state. 

The program, which provides hot meals to elderly citizens, is running out of money, and has had continuous financial problems for several years.  Prowers County Commissioner Gene Millbrand explained the history, present conditions and future hopes for Sage Nutrition last Thursday, May 26, during a luncheon celebrating Colorado’s Older Americans at the SOS Center in Lamar.

In a nutshell, not enough funds are coming in, while the number of participants is climbing in southeast Colorado.  An average Sage meal costs $5.85, and although diners are not obligated to contribute the full amount, the payback on a meal is just under $1.40.  Meals are cooked for on-site consumption at centers in the six counties, but most of the cost comes from delivering the meals to hundreds of residents who cannot attend the daily luncheons.

Millbrand explained that a commissioners group recently cut the work week of paid staff members by a half-hour per day, and also closed seven sites where the in-person visitation for meals was less than 200 per month, including Holly.    The current contract with the state ends this June, and the state wants to see additional cuts in operation costs.  Commissioners from the six counties developed a RFP, Request for Proposal for the next fiscal year, hoping additional cuts will keep Sage Nutrition operational.    Basically, fewer meals will be served hot and fewer deliveries will take place.  The new plans call for one hot meal served each Monday, and frozen meals will be prepared to be delivered just once a week using paid delivery persons.  The areas using volunteer delivery persons will maintain their current schedules.

Millbrand said the Sage financial problem was exacerbated by late payments from the federal government, with February funding arriving in August.  Sage is currently operating at $40,000 in the red, and the expected $65,000 in federal funds may be months from arriving.  Grant sources provide revenue based on interest on investments, and Millbrand said the general national economy is impacting that funding by a third.  He added that studies show revenue contributions on meals has dropped 20%, while the number of users has increased by that percentage.  The commissioner said that even if the state approves the RFP modifications, more cuts may be needed to keep the program alive.

By Russ Baldwin


Filed Under: CommissionerscommunityCountyEconomyFeaturedHealth


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