22% of Herkimer County's population is senior citizens that is higher than the national average. On a daily basis the Meals on Wheels program in Herkimer delivers 350 meals a day. And the County Administrator says programs like these offers more than just a meal. James Wallace says, "The program itself is designed to keep people in their homes, so we think it's a fantastic program a much needed program. You know it helps the family but it also helps the tax payer. You know I think the quality of life for an individual if they can stay in their home that's really what most seniors want to be able to do."
The recent rise of gas prices combined with budget tightening puts a strain on programs like these. Mary Scanlon, Director of the Office of Aging added, "This geographic area is economically is pretty depressed and has been for a lot of years and so it's very tough to find people who have the time and the income level to do this job as a volunteer."
Mary says their drivers are very dedicated and go beyond just delivering meals. She says, "We have a lot of stories where they'll bring the mail in for them, they'll take the garbage out for them and they do a lot of those other little things. And it's really a comfort not only to the person that's receiving the meal but the family members that they know that somebody is checking on Mom or Dad every Monday through Friday to make sure that their ok."