TOMS RIVER – Ocean County is home to more than 173,000 seniors and many of them utilize services from county assistance programs. Those programs will now benefit from increased funding by federal state and county sources.
“This additional money received, in part, under the federal Older Americans Act will help enhance some of the many services we provide to our senior citizens, especially those who are frail, vulnerable and disabled,” Ocean County Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari, Chairman of the Office of Senior Services said.
Vicari added that “from home delivered meals to helping out the many caregivers who provide a helping hand to the elderly, these funds go a long way in delivering beneficial and needed support.”
Members of the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders approved amendments on Aug. 21 to the contracts of 13 different senior services providers in order to reflect the additional funding.
Federal funds increased by $180,085, while state funds increased by $15,470 and county funding went up by $91,000 for a total midyear increase of $286,555.
Vicari said he was pleased to see the additional funding for these programs. “Some years we have gone without mid-year increases. This certainly is a help.”
Community Services Inc. which is the county’s senior nutrition program provider received an additional $70,000 for the county’s senior home delivered meal program. The agency provides 1,100 home delivered meals a day across the county to many low income and homebound seniors. They also provide meals to numerous senior congregate nutrition sites.
“The senior home delivered meal program is of the utmost importance to this Board and we are committed to making certain funding for this program is maintained at the proper levels in order to serve the neediest of our seniors,” Vicari said.
Ocean County Freeholder Director Virginia E. Haines said the program is “a lifeline to many seniors. It’s a daily wellness check. It allows our seniors to continue to live independently.”
Vicari noted that several senior centers in the county such as the Toms River Senior Center, the Brick Township Senior Center, Long Beach Island Center and the Point Pleasant Multi-Purpose Senior Center, received additional funds as well.
“These centers serve as a centerpiece for social activities for our seniors,” Vicari said. “Throughout the year, they hold health fairs and informational sessions on scams and other topics. They are open daily and provide a comfortable spot for our seniors to gather and enjoy each other’s company.”
Providers that assist with transportation, outreach services, fix-it programs, caregiver support and legal assistance also received additional funding.
Vicari said “the cost to run our senior services and programs totals $6.1 million annually with the cost shared by the federal government, the state government and the Ocean County Freeholders.”
Ocean County appropriates nearly $2.2 million for its senior programs. The federal funding totals $2.5 million and the state provides $1.4 million.
“We expect to serve close to 33,000 older residents and their families in 2019,” Vicari said. “Whether you are someone new to retirement or someone that is approaching 100, while your needs differ, we recognize the importance of being able to access assistance when needed.”