Hot meals at lunchtime for homebound seniors in St. Peters received a boost from the Central County Fire and Rescue Fire Protection District, which presented a $20,556. 55 check on Dec. 17 to support the city’s Meals on Wheels program.
The funds were raised at an annual trivia night in October hosted by St. Peters Mayor Len Pagano, the city’s Board of Aldermen and the fire district. The funds, along with money raised from through the city’s “dollar up” program, will help to assure that hot meals are delivered to about 150 seniors each weekday.
The check was presented by Steve Brown, assistant fire chief, at the St. Peters Senior Center. Brown said the amount was a record, surpassing the $17,000 raised at a previous trivia night.
Earlier this year, when the organizing committee met to plan the trivia night, Brown suggested a $20,000 goal. “Everybody just kind of looked at me,” he said.
The city works with the Mid-East Area Agency on Aging to administer its Meals on Wheels program, which remains one of the few senior meals programs in the St. Louis area that still serves home-delivered hot meals Monday through Friday. Because of the expense, and state and federal budget cuts, some communities have moved to the delivery of frozen meals once a week – meals that some seniors have a hard time warming up.
“We hold this as model of community support that we would love to have in the rest of our four counties,” said Lisa M. Knoll, chief operating officer for MEAAA. “It’s so outstanding.”
MEAAA works with seniors programs in St. Charles, St. Louis, Franklin and Jefferson counties. Knoll said an important element of the program is the personal contact that volunteers have with homebound seniors. Some of the seniors get few visitors and the meals program allows volunteers to check up on them.
In addition to the recent trivia night funds donation, the city supports its Meals on Wheels program with “dollar-up,” a program that encourages contributions from utility customers.
Alderman Jerry Hollingsworth [Ward 2] and other aldermen came up with the idea of giving utility customers the option to donate to the program by simply rounding up their utility payments to the next dollar amount or making a higher donation. Since 2012, customers have marked a box on their bi-monthly bills for water, sewer and trash, and have contributed more than $44,000.
At the check presentation, Hollingsworth continued to ask for residents to make donations . The city sends out 15,000 utility bills and if everyone rounded off their bills by adding 25 cents, the city could totally fund the entire program in St. Peters, Hollingsworth said.