Ocean County To Provide Almost 300,000 Meals To Seniors

County employees prepare meals for delivery and for those who came out to the Southern Service Center. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

TOMS RIVER – New contracts for the county’s senior nutrition program were approved by the Board of Chosen Freeholders recently.

“In the new year, Ocean County will provide almost 300,000 meals to seniors,” Freeholder and Chairman of Senior Services Joseph H. Vicari said. “Close to 1,100 meals are currently prepared daily and distributed to homebound seniors as well as the eight congregate meal sites located throughout our county.

“We operate one of the largest senior nutrition programs in the state and with the support of the Board of Freeholders we have awarded seven contracts to continue this program into 2019,” Vicari said. “There is no wait list in Ocean County for this program. No senior in Ocean County goes hungry.”

Community Services Inc., the primary meal provider in Ocean County, was awarded those contracts.

The cost of the 2019 congregate meal contract is $782,173, and for home delivered, weekend, and holidays meals, the contract is $1.8 million.

The county estimates it will deliver more than 295,000 meals in 2019.

The county provided 265,428 meals by November’s end.

Meals are prepared at the Community Services Inc. kitchen in Lakewood now, but will move to the Ocean County Southern Service Center on Route 9 in Manahawkin early next year.

“The senior nutrition program serves as a lifeline for many of our elderly residents living alone. It helps them maintain their independence and the volunteers and drivers help provide a daily wellness check for many seniors that can no longer get around on their own,” Freeholder Director Gerry P. Little said. “Nutrition support is a key ingredient to good health for older adults.”

Community Services Inc. was also awarded contracts to provide more than 30,820 units for support services such as community outreach, benefits counseling, transportation, and general information and assistance at a cost of $484,749.

They will conduct Chronic Disease Self-Management workshops for 200 individuals – specifically targeting those with diabetes – costing $40,089 in 2019.

“Ocean County is home to more than 170,000 adults 60 and over,” Vicari said. “And, more than 10,000 baby boomers daily are turning 65. It is important to meet the needs of the frail and the homebound. This is a priority for the freeholders.”