To the Editor:
In response to a letter to the editor dated Feb. 27: The meals provided by the Aging Unit of Iron County’s nutrition program are funded in part by Title III-C of the federal Older Americans Act. Since enactment in 1965, the Older Americans Act has emphasized dignity of older persons by requiring that older persons be allowed to contribute towards the planning and administering of aging programs, as well as the cost of services. Each provider of Older Americans Act services shall provide each older person with an opportunity to voluntarily contribute to the cost of service.
To maintain integrity of the intention of the Older Americans Act regarding voluntary contributions, programs must:
1. Provide each older person with an opportunity to voluntarily contribute to the cost of the service.
2. Protect the privacy of each older person with respect to his or her contributions.
3. Establish appropriate procedures to safeguard and account for all contributions.
4. Not deny an older person a service because the older person cannot or will not contribute to the cost of the service.
5. Not require a contribution or in any way imply one is required in order to participate.
In January 2014, we began sending donation letters to all home-delivered meal participants that state the number of meals they receive for the month and the suggested donation amount. We have since revised the letter to make it more clear that no eligible person will be denied meals based on their ability to contribute and asking them to please donate what they feel they can personally afford for their meals.
We sincerely apologize for the lack of clarity in explaining the process in the initial letter and any confusion or interruption in service that may have occurred. I have personally contacted the individual referenced in the letter on Feb. 27 and invited that individual to resume receipt of home-delivered meals.
We are sorry if this hurt anyone. We will continue to work to support all older adults in Iron County.
Board members and residents, as well as others in our community, are our eyes and ears when it comes to finding necessary help for our neighbors and we appreciate your advocacy and concern for older adults in our communities. If you identify opportunities for improvement in the quality of the programs and services we offer, please contact me.
Mary Kay Welch
Executive director, Aging Unit of Iron County