Garfield BOCC ponies up to support senior meals program serving lower Roaring Fork Valley | PostIndependent.com
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Garfield BOCC ponies up to support senior meals program serving lower Roaring Fork Valley

Mary Kenyon, founder of Valley Meals and More, carries meals out of the Eagle County Community Center in March during the public health lockdowns.
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times

The last bit of Garfield County’s federal CARE Act dollars, meant to deal with the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, will go to support a senior meals program on the east end of the county.

Valley Meals and More, a program sponsored by Carbondale-based Senior Matters, ramped up its efforts earlier this year when it saw a huge increase in demand for home-delivered meals within the senior citizen population during the initial stages of the pandemic lockdowns.

During that time, the program serving seniors in the Carbondale and El Jebel/Basalt area went from delivering meals to just eight homes to more than 50, director Mary Kenyon said.

Earlier this year, county commissioners allocated $40,000 to Grand River Health for its Meals on Wheels program serving the west-end communities of Rifle, Parachute, Silt and New Castle.

Valley View Hospital has a similar program serving the Glenwood Springs area, but there has been a void in terms of senior nutrition needs in the far eastern part of Garfield County, Kenyon said.

County commissioners on Monday unanimously agreed to allocate the remaining $30,000 in its CARES fund to support the Valley Meals and More program.

“There is definitely a need, and I thank you for doing this,” Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said of Kenyon’s efforts.

Of the approximately 9,900 “older adults” residing in Garfield County as a whole, Kenyon said about 37% of them live in the Valley Meals and More service area of the county.

Based on a recent community assessment survey:

  • 23% of Garfield County residents age 60 and older report at least a minor problem having enough food to eat;
  • 41% of the 60+ population reports having difficulty maintaining a healthy diet;
  • 39% of 60+ adults feel lonely or isolated, and 42% report feeling depressed; and,
  • 30% of the 60+ population lives alone, and 38% of those over age 65 live alone.

Kenyon’s organization partners with area restaurants to prepare the meals and package them for delivery according to public health guidelines due to the ongoing pandemic response.

She has been busy lining up the estimated $63,360 needed to continue delivering meals to seniors through the remainder of the year, and had requested $40,860 from Garfield County. Additional funding is also being sought from AAA Colorado, the town of Carbondale and other sources.

To date, a little more than $125,000 in food assistance support for the program has come from a variety of organizations, including the Rocky Mountain Health Foundation, the Aspen Community Foundation’s COVID Response Fund, Colorado COVID-19 Relief Fund, 2020 Rescue Fund, the Morgridge Family Foundation, Harvey Family and Friends Foundation, Area Agency on Aging, St. Mary of the Crown and St. Vincent Catholic Churches, and numerous private donors.

jstroud@postindependent.com


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