Congregate Nutrition Program in Sussex County Receiving Positive Reviews
On January 1, 2013, the Sussex County Department of Human Services, Division of Senior Services assumed responsibility for the Congregate Nutrition Program. The County of Sussex entered into Shared Service Agreements with Franklin Borough, Hopatcong Borough, Newton Housing Authority and Vernon Township to assist with providing nutrition services at the nutrition sites within those municipalities. The food is currently being provided by Newton Medical Center through a contract entered into on November 1, 2012.
With the County of Sussex assuming responsibility for the four nutrition sites, much of the administrative and clerical tasks are now handled by the Division of Senior Services, allowing the site managers to devote more time to the participants and to oversee the day-to-day operations of the nutrition program. Consequently, participants have expressed increased satisfaction with the services they are receiving at each location, which in turn has increased the number of seniors actively involved in the Congregate Nutrition Program. Seniors have remarked that they are not waiting as long for their meals, and they feel that having direct staff contact has created an overall improvement to each nutrition site. Jean Mize, a senior citizen from Vernon Township, stated that she has been coming to the Vernon Senior Center for many years and that she has seen quite a difference already in January, compared to the last few years. In expressing her enthusiasm towards the meals, Jean described the food as, "100% better than the food previously served. The food is more nutritious in my opinion." Overall, Jean felt that the seniors at the Vernon Senior Center were much more satisfied than in years past. Jean said, "The Vernon Senior Center is a good place that offers a lot of activities, great food and there is good communication among everyone, and I see attitudes being much more positive." Specifically, Jane likes how the staff now serves the meals directly to the participants at the tables, rather than the participants having to wait in a line to get their food.
Jennie Switzer, a 95 year old resident of Liberty Towers in Newton, has been a participant as well as a volunteer at the Newton Nutrition Site for about 29 years. She shared similar sentiments about seeing an improvement with the food and positive attitudes from staff members. Jennie said, "Staff is doing a wonderful job. They are nice to everyone and most people are happy. The food has improved, and I have not heard any complaints lately."
"This is a great example of how local collaboration improves the quality of services offered to the citizens of Sussex County and efficient use of existing resources. We expect to bring additional educational and social resources to our seniors through this collaborative effort," said Stephen Gruchacz, Administrator for the Sussex County Department of Human Services.
If anyone would like to obtain additional information about the Congregate Nutrition Program or to make a reservation at one of the congregate nutrition sites, contact the Division of Senior Services at 973-579-0555 x 1285.