Senior Meal Program distribution cancelled for this week after fire destroys Senior CenterSubmitted: 05/06/2015
WOODRUFF - Seniors who rely on the Senior Meal Program in the Lakeland area won't receive their food for a few days after a fire destroyed the Lakeland Senior Center in Woodruff early Wednesday morning. 

The senior center served as the point of distribution for the meals, and the fire leaves workers without a place to prepare and ship them out.

The interruption in service could cause a problem for some seniors; for some of them, the meal they receive through the program is often their only meal of the day.

Some seniors used to go to the senior center to eat and socialize. Others just had their meals delivered from the center. But they all depend on the program.

"Well, this is my lunch every day, five days a week, and it's gone," says Ron Jensen, a senior enrolled in the meal program.

The Oneida County Department on Aging, which runs the Senior Meal Program, is working quickly to find another location from which to distribute the meals.

"Our goal is to start serving again on Monday of next week," says Dianne Jacobson, the Executive Director of the Oneida County Department on Aging.

All of the food seniors receive through the program is actually cooked in Rhinelander. But the Senior Center needs an appropriate space to pack its deliveries and serve the food.

"We do need a certain amount of set-up as well as the equipment that seals the home meals and also the heat wells that hold the hot food so that we can serve," says Jacobson.

All seniors enrolled in the program were called and told they won't be getting food on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday.

The problem is that some seniors live alone and can't cook their own meals. That's why the Department on Aging is hoping the community will help.

"If anyone [reading] this has a friend or family member or neighbor that gets home-delivered meals, this would be a nice time to reach out and bring them a meal this week," says Jacobson.

So far, the community has stepped up. Several churches and the Woodruff Town Hall have offered their spaces to the Senior Meal Program.

However, the Oneida County Department on Aging doesn't think it'll be able to start food distribution until Monday, so seniors will need to find a different way to get food. The seniors who ate at the senior center will also need to find a new place to eat.

"That isn't saying I can't go out to a restaurant, because I'll have to," says Jensen. "But to me, [the Senior Center] was a place to meet a lot of people. The comradery is great. The people are great. The people who work here and maintain it, they're just tremendous."

Story By: Karolina Buczek

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