State of the Organization

March 7, 2023

Frank Schersing


The State of the Organization
2022 has been a challenging year for the organization. Contrary to popular belief, we are not a county organization. We are a private, non-profit organization in business since 1979.  Looking back at the last 2 years we have come a long way into providing services for the County residents. In 2020 we served 400 consumers in the county with 24,566 Home Delivered Meals and 2,492 Congregate Meals. In 2021 this number improved to 476 consumers, serving 31,932 Home Delivered Meals and 792 Congregate Meals. In 2022 we again increased services to 558 consumers, serving 39,947 Home Delivered Meals and 1,297 Congregate Meals.
Increasing the services we provide is a double edged sword. While it is nice to do more for more people in the county, it does come at a cost. Our overall Title III funding and Transportation funding did not increase, these additional services we provided puts an additional strain on the organization in terms of the overall budget. Our cost per meal was $10.86 in 2021, and donations averaged $2.50, even though we were asking for a $4.00 per meal donation to help with our expenses. In 2021 we lost $8.36 per meal served, for a loss of $273,572.64 in the nutrition program alone. The economy and COVID have taken their toll on our programs.
From 2021 to the end of last year our overall meal count increased by 8,520 meals. If we used the 2021 meal cost numbers we have lost an additional $71,227.20 in the meal program for a total of $344,799.84 in our Congregate and Home Delivered Meal Programs. In reality, the economy has taken a bigger toll. In 2022, 82 more individuals have utilized our nutrition program and we are struggling to reach an average of $2.00 per meal in Donations. Our food transport vans put on an average of 5,600 miles per month. We have one van that needs to be replaced with 360,000 miles on it. There is no separate funding we can tap into to replace the vehicle, it’ll have to come out of our overall budget.
We are facing the same issue in the transportation program. We have given 3,726 rides in the transportation program, with an average donation of $1.43 per ride. We have a need that continues to grow as the price of gasoline climbs. Many individuals would rather use our transportation program rather than pay the high cost of fuel. This frees their funds up for other important needs they have. There has also been an increasing request for dialysis trips, which are very hard to fill since it takes a dedicated commitment by our volunteers to take the same person, sometimes four days a week that uses up the entire day. This is more for a paid employee, which we do not have. We have a little over three dedicated volunteer drivers in our Volunteer Escort Program and could use many more.
We have had issues in the transportation program this last year. One of our drivers failed to secure a wheelchair during a transport and the wheelchair tipped over injuring the client. The organization is now facing a lawsuit. We do not at this time have any information on how much she is looking to sue the organization for.
With the organization trying to pay a living wage, increased costs and reduced donations, Cash Flow is still the Major Issue. We still must work out how the taxes are going to be paid on our payroll as well. We were behind in making the payments. We filled out the forms on time but did not have the cash flow to make the payments. Some vendors were also late in receiving their reimbursements because of cash flow issues. Vendors want their checks and the government wants it’s taxes. Currently, we are waiting close to six months to get our reimbursements for our bills.
How do we keep the doors open? We need to find more cost-effective ways of delivering our services. We cannot be everything to everyone. We have to make the hard decisions on how services are going to be given in the future. We have to learn to give alternatives or say “no.”
We cannot keep everyone on home delivered meals. If our current home delivered meal people will not voluntarily come into our congregate sites, we will need to do a home evaluation to see if they are truly homebound. The federal and state regulations require that homebound people be given priority under the Older Americans Act. If they are homebound, they stay on home delivered meals if not, they will have to come off and come into the congregate site if they want a meal. With the increased costs of the raw food, packaging, and delivery costs we cannot continue to absorb loses of over $8.00 per meal. So, if our Home delivered meal participants still drive and they don’t want to come in to a congregate site they will have to drive in to the congregate site and pick up their meal to take home. Later this year we will lose approximately $70,000 in federal COVID funds that help with the nutrition program. Many out there are probably saying, just raise the donations for meals. We are currently asking for $4.00 per meal and actually only getting a little over $2.00 on average. Just because we raise our donation requests does not mean we are going to get it. In 2021 the economy was a little better and we averaged $2.50 per meals, again with a $4.00 request for donation. With a worse economy, we see our donations drop for the nutrition and transportation programs. Many see this as a political issue, and it is. One side wants to turn the services into a mandated service and the other side does not want to fund it and the person really needing the service is the loser.
If nothing changes in the way we deliver services we will go bankrupt and have to close down operations. Now is the time to start planning for our future and we are taking a pro-active stance in trying to keep the doors open and providing services as long as we can. We are asking you to help us keep the doors open and the services flowing. Please do your part to not abuse the services and donate what you can to help our programs continue, and if you can volunteer to help us provide services for your neighbors.