Ulster County Office for the Aging has got the food

Dinner Table by Althea James.

Ulster County’s Office for the Aging wants to provide meals and nutritional counseling for Woodstock’s seniors and may coordinate with the town’s programming.

While seniors in the town can get prepared meals delivered to them, the program proposed in Woodstock is for congregate eating. “The whole point is to bring them to the site to eat together, and not just bring meals home. Normally we’d much prefer to have people eat together every day,” Office for the Aging Director Susan Koppenhaver told the Woodstock Town Board at its December 21 business meeting. “The way it works is people register, they fill out an application, and if they meet certain income requirements, they don’t have to pay anything; or else we ask them to make a $3 donation…Most folks don’t have to pay, and they get a third of their recommended daily allowance of vitamins and minerals and protein and whatever they need.”

The meals are provided by Gateway Industries and someone would need to be on site to heat them and serve them, she said.

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“We kind of watch what happens and we present information to them. Nutritionists can come in. A dietitian can come in and do education. We come in and talk about our services. We can send in people from our office to talk about our services to people who may not know about them and may certainly qualify.”

Koppenhaver said it typically takes about 45 minutes to get the food ready and 30 minutes to reheat it, then 30 minutes for people to eat and 15 minutes each for setup and cleanup.

“When we start a new site, we try once a week and see how it goes, and if people are interested, we might add a second,” she said.

While COVID has made it difficult for people to meet and eat in person, Koppenhaver noted the observation and socialization is important. “We certainly strongly encourage people to be vaccinated, they have to wear a mask all at all times, except when they’re eating, and they don’t really linger a lot,” Koppenhaver said.

She said based on the meal costs and other expenses, she’d prefer not to pay rent for use of the community center, something Supervisor Bill McKenna said could be waived.

Councilwoman Laura Ricci suggested a six-month pilot.

“So if we all think it’s working great, we can continue. If anybody thinks it’s not working, we don’t have to continue,” Ricci said.

McKenna asked the Town Board to think about the proposal and get Koppenhaver an answer by the new year. Something could be set up in the Mescal Hornbeck Community Center after coordinating schedules, McKenna said.

“We do have some senior programs, so maybe we could have you segue into one of the programs,” he said.

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