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Recipients in remote areas may receive vouchers or monthly case of frozen meals

As the state and federal governments ask everyone to tighten their belts, Anita Sailor, senior nutrition program manager for Rural Resources in Colville, said those cuts include seniors and affect donations, so “programs are stretched to the hilt.”

“There’s only so much we can cut with Meals on Wheels without affecting the number and type of meals we serve,” she said.

For example, frozen meals cost less than hot meals.

We’re always trying to raise funds and find more money, but communities only have so much, and every nonprofit is in the same boat—Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and food banks,” Anita said.    “We’re determined to serve those in the most critical need, asking seniors who receive the meals to donate a bit more.”

The Tri-County program asks for $3 for hot meals, but the average donation is half that.

Meals on Wheels through Rural Resources serves the Tri-counties—Stevens, Ferry and Pend Oreille.  Because communities are far apart, the program provides hot meals, liquid meals, frozen meals and shelf-stable meals.

Logistically, we can’t deliver hot meals in all locations.  For example, volunteers can’t drive up a mountain if the road isn’t passable.  So we offer frozen meals and deliver a case once a month based on needs, issues and access,” said Anita, who has worked with the program for 15 years.

About 100 volunteers assist.  Churches and service groups help coordinate the volunteers.

As of the end of September 2010, Rural Resources had served 24,000 meals and has some people on waiting lists, especially for hot meals and the main “congregate meal site” or senior lunch site.

Rural Resources, which has helped Northeast Washington residents since 1965, sends vouchers to some of the seniors.  The vouchers can be used for meals at 15 to 18 locations—including hospitals and restaurants. 

“They can use vouchers as fast or slow as they want,” she said.

Federal funds for the senior lunch program have been cut $10,000, which Anita said is a big amount for a small program.

“It’s a big deal to our budget. Everything is stretched to the max, and there is more need, especially in the winter when seniors are less able to go out,” she said.  “Plus there are more people in their 50s and 60s who need meal help.  They have to go to the food bank.”

Rural Resources has no income limits for Meals on Wheels or the senior meal sites.  Age is the criterion, because even seniors with money need good nutrition.

Offices in Colville, Newport and Ione help communities develop skills, resources and services to improve their welfare.

For information, call 509-684-3932 or visit


Copyright © December 2010 - The Fig Tree