Garfield County dishes out more funding for Rifle Senior Meals Program

Kitchen workers prepare a Thanksgiving meal for the Rifle Senior Center in 2021.
Ray K. Erku/Citizen Telegram

Rifle’s senior meals program is going to receive more funding from Garfield County to make up for rises in inflation.

After Rifle Senior Center Director Tami Sours reported in June that the city was covering an extra 96 cents for each meal it served, Garfield County offered to increase its reimbursement rate for each meal and its overall cap for the program.

In addition, Rifle City Council on June 6 unanimously approved receiving a $11.50 meal reimbursement rate from the county and a $196,592 cap for the 2022-23 contract.

“It’s a little above what our average is,” Sours said. “So we should be OK.” 

Rifle’s senior meal program offers free hot meals to any adult age 60 or older. Every noon Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, people are welcome to the Rifle Senior Center for hot food and, many times, visitation with their peers. There are also locations in Parachute, Silt and New Castle.

Sours originally reported in June that its free senior meal service, which also covers Parachute, Silt and New Castle, was incurring higher average cost per meal due to rising inflation. 

Despite costing $11.22 per meal over the past 10 months, Garfield County — which financially supports about 92% of the entire program — was appropriating a meal reimbursement rate of $10.25 per the 2021-22 contract. The county also maintained a $169,125 cap for the program.

Numbers show the service prepared 10,926 meals between July 1, 2021, and April 30 for $122,600. But the county, at its rate, reimbursed just $111,991. This left an extra $10,609 for the city to pay.

Rifle City Council proposed three options: that partnering cities split the extra costs, the county increase its funding or the city ultimately appropriate an extra $10,609 to keep the service alive.

During negotiations over the next fiscal year contract, Sours said the county offered to marginally increase its program cap to $175,223, which still meant the city would be responsible for covering more than $10,000 in extra costs.

The city estimates it will serve 17,095 meals over the next fiscal year.

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