I’m not sure whether to read the closing of the Veblen Senior Meals program and the decline in participation in the program in neighboring towns as bad news or good news:
With fewer than 10 senior citizens per day using the Senior Meals program in Veblen, it just isn’t economically feasible for it to continue and the program will no longer be available after June 12.
…Presently, Veblen’s site is the only one slated to be closed, but Pesek said, there are other communities that have troublesome numbers.
Those communities — Mobridge, Redfield, Webster, Sisseton and Groton — used to serve 40 people a day, and now they’re serving 15, he said.
In Aberdeen, he said, participation has dropped to about 200 meals per day, which is down from 300 about five years ago.
Region-wide, [Region IV Senior Nutrition project director Rick] Pesek said the decline is more pronounced.
“My projections five years ago would have been 300,000 (meals per year),” he said. “We’re down to serving 225,000 meals for the year” [Elisa Sand, “Senior Meals End in Veblen,” Aberdeen American News, 2015.05.23].
Curious: all the demography tells us we have a growing elderly population. We might speculate that old folks are leaving the small towns to live closer to provisions and hospitals, but Aberdeen is seeing the same decline in Senior Meals participation. Are older folks turning away from this assistance (Senior Meals gets 47% of its funding from the feds, the rest from local donations and governments)? Are old folks better maintaining the income and mobility necessary to make their own meals? Are they getting nutrition in other settings, like assisted living?
The handful of Veblen elders still using Senior Meals can drive to the Farmers Inn Cafe in Claire City nine miles east. Program director Pesek says towns where Senior Meals participation is declining can partner with local cafes to keep it going.
In Veblen, we’re kinda stuck,” he said. “There’s a cafe, but nobody has suggested that as a choice.”