Washoe County expands senior food delivery program

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Washoe County expands senior food delivery program

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Employees at the Washoe County Senior Center pack trays of food into the freezer of a delivery truck for the senior home-delivered meal program, which is expanding to include breakfast

In addition to delivering lunch to low income, homebound seniors, Washoe County is now offering breakfast as well. For more than a third of these clients, the county provides their only meal of the day.

Employees at the Washoe County Senior Center pack trays of food into the freezer of a delivery truck. They're headed to visit Rick Judson who has received lunches for about a year now. Judson says the additional meals will allow him to use more of his limited income on other daily expenses.

"It helps free up my income to get other things that I need," Judson explains, "like laundry powder, soap, toiletries, that kind of thing."

Judson is one of about 450 homebound seniors to receive meals. Breakfasts will be offered to all clients and Grady Tarbutton, director of Washoe County Senior Services, expects up to 200 people will take advantage of the new service. He says that along with having limited incomes, this population has low food security for other reasons as well.

"People who are socially isolated, and that includes people that don't have family, they're the only person in their family and often that's because of advanced age," Tarbutton says. "So, we have people over the age of 80 that are especially vulnerable and we have people, of course, that are frail--they can no longer do things for themselves."

The program has not expanded its offerings in more than two decades and Tarbutton says now is the time to focus on senior nutrition:

"It's a priority because of the rapid population growth of our seniors. We know, according to the census in 2010, that we had 76,000 people over the age of 60. By 2020, it's going to be 100,000 people. By 2030, it's going to be it's going to be 130,000 people--twenty-plus percent of the entire Washoe County population."

Each year, Washoe County Senior Services provides about 220,000 meals for seniors. Serving breakfast will cost the county an extra $200,000 a year for about 50,000 additional meals.