By Evan Millward of WCPO Cincinnati:
One glance at the little Meals on Wheels kitchen at the senior center on state Route 741 and you’d never guess how many meals come out every day.
In 2015, it was about 275,000 meals, and for 2016, they provided 375,000 meals to Warren County residents over 60 years of age. That makes Warren County one of Ohio’s busiest Meals on Wheels programs.
“We’re out of space. We have been for some time,” said Eugene Rose, Warren County Community Services director. “With a 100-year-old structure like that, the infrastructure underneath … will eventually fail, and it’s a roulette wheel as to when that will happen. So, that’s a major concern.”
That’s why they’re planning a new, $1.2 million building to open in June or July at 6141 Market Ave. in Middletown. The 13,000-square-foot facility will include a loading dock, additional fridge and freezer space, indoor parking for the vans and a modern kitchen that’s two to three times the size of the current one.
Drivers like Harold Rudd won’t have to load their vans outside anymore.
“Hopefully they’ve got that worked out so that we kind of have our own little designated area,” Rudd said. “The workflow will go a whole lot better.”
The new building will hopefully guarantee Meals on Wheels can keep serving the 1,500 people a day who rely on them, like Mason resident JoAnn Anderson, who said she gets “a smile at first” and sometimes hoagies and mixed vegetables from the program.
President Donald Trump’s proposed federal budget cuts community block grants, which could possibly cut Meals of Wheels funding up to 35 percent. Those cuts wouldn’t directly affect the new building because it’s being paid for predominantly through a loan, but they eventually do need to repay that loan, which could prove difficult if funding is cut.