Twin Falls Meals on Wheels services being impacted by lack of funding

The center has about 35 drivers, and Rick Horner has been a Meals on Wheels driver for more than ten years.
Published: Nov. 23, 2022 at 10:48 AM MST
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) —The Twin Falls Senior Center’s Meals on Wheels drivers are busy this week, as Thanksgiving is right around the corner.

The center has about 35 drivers, and Rick Horner has been a Meals on Wheels driver for more than ten years. He said he does it to give back to the community.

“It is important to me because I had a small business here in this community, and the people here have just been great to me,” Horner said.

This week is a busy one for Horner and other drivers. The senior center is closed on Thursday and Friday due to Thanksgiving, so customers received two meals on Monday and two meals on Tuesday. Customers received Monday and Thursday meals on Monday, and Tuesday and Friday meals on Tuesday.

“So it’s just double the punch I guess,” said Horner with a chuckle and smile.

Customers said it means a lot to them that drivers like Horner volunteer their time to deliver meals to seniors because many of them struggle to cook for themselves or are on a tight budget. For some seniors, the Meals on Wheels driver is the only friendly face they see all day.

“There is nothing to dislike about him (Horner). He is just great,” said Meals on Wheels client Elvin Perkins.

Lori O’Neil added about Horner, “he is very happy, and always has a nice thing to say. He always brings us a menu every month.”

However, the Twin Falls Senior Center and Meals on Wheel drivers recently received some bad news, as customers whose meals are provided through the CSI Office on Aging will receive a maximum of five meals a week instead of seven starting Thanksgiving week, until further notice, due to lack of funding. Customers usually received two cold meals on Friday that they can heat up and eat on Saturday and Sunday. The meals during the week are usually hot meals.

“It was a little heartbreaking but we will make it through,” O’Neil said.

Twin Falls Senior Center officials said right now they have about 185 Meals on Wheels clients, and the Office on Aging isn’t accepting any new customers into the program until funding is fully restored. The program usually has around 200 clients.

Customers whose meals are funded privately or through Medicaid will not be impacted. However, O’Neil is one of the customers who is going to be impacted by the changes. She said she is probably going to have to ration the meals she does receive.

“I am absolutely crossing my fingers hoping funding is returned because it has really been a great benefit,” O’Neil said.

The Twin Falls Senior Center is hoping funding is fully restored after January 2023, but until then, they are asking the community for help. Senior center officials are asking for monetary donations or in-kind donations so the customers impacted can receive seven meals a week. Officials also said each weekend meal cost roughly $6.

Additionally, Horner hopes the funding is restored so he can continue to put a smile on his customers’ faces.

“In a way, it’s sort of like my community family,” Horner said.

The CSI Office on Aging provides other options for Meals on Wheels customers who have been impacted:

  • They can eat at the senior center if they have reliable transportation.
  • They can get meals from family, friends, neighbors, or a local church.
  • Or they can utilize local restaurants with delivery services

Additionally the Twin Falls Senior Center will have a Turkey Dinner for seniors at noon on Wednesday. The senior center will be closed on Thursday and Friday.

For more information, call the Twin Falls Senior Center at (208) 734-5084.