HARRISBURG, PA (September 28, 2016) – More senior
citizens are receiving meals and being protected from abuse thanks to a
$300,000 annual savings generated by the Dauphin County Commissioners’ decision
to outsource meal preparation for senior programs.
Since December 2014, food for the county’s Meals on Wheels
program and for its senior centers has been prepared by York-based Nutrition
Group Inc. – generating $300,000 in annual savings that the Dauphin County Area
Agency on Aging is using to meet increasing needs.
Specifically, two additional investigators have been hired to
deal with double-digit increases in mainly financial crimes against seniors and
the number of meals delivered to home-bound seniors as well as to senior
centers has increased.
“Initially I did have concerns about outsourcing, but seniors
tell us that the meals are better than ever and the savings is allowing us to
help more people,’’ said Commissioner George P. Hartwick, III, who oversee the
county’s Human Services. “This is a truly a win for county taxpayers as well as
for our older residents who depend on these services.’’
Between 2014 and 2015, the number of elderly abuse cases
increased by 60 percent to 778 and this year the county is on track to
investigate more than 800 allegations. Most of the cases involve either neglect
or financial exploitation – many times by a family member or trusted caregiver.
In addition to working with the district attorney to pursue charges, every
effort is made to get restitution, as well as to install a court-appointed
guardian to ensure against further problems.
Additionally, for families looking after older loved ones,
the county can in extreme cases, increase the amount of personal care offered
from an hour one or two days a week to three days. Personal care includes
assistance with bathing, meals and light housekeeping.
“Dauphin County is fortunate to be one of the few counties
without a waiting list for services and the savings we are seeing from
outsourcing our kitchen continues to make that possible,’’ said board Chairman
Jeff Haste. “Our continuous focus on ways to save money without decreasing
service is one way we have held the line on property taxes for the past 11
The savings are also allowing the county, which oversees the
home delivery of more than 160,000 meals annually thanks to volunteers with the
Meals on Wheels program, to distribute lunches to three new meal sites,
frequented by more than 50 residents a week.
“With the expected rise in the number of seniors who will
need assistance, it is important for us to constantly look to see where we can
do more with our limited resources,’’ Commissioner Mike Pries said. “Providing
a safety net for some of our most vulnerable residents is one of the most
important jobs we do as county commissioners.’’