Peekskill officials are worried possible cuts in federal funding may cause the city to subsidize a larger portion senior nutritional program.
The Peekskill Common Council approved this year budget for this year, which is about $500,000, and is currently in the process of negotiating program funding with Westchester County for next year.
Fran Brunelle, the city’s director of human services, said county officials are worried there will be cuts to the federal program, which will impacted how much money is reimbursed. Brunelle said the county is also looking at alternatives for communities use in order to lower food costs.
Brunelle said there is still some hope that last year's funding levels will be restored.
“They’re hoping, but at the same time it doesn’t look as optimistic as it did last year,” Brunelle said. “Again, there are going to be some advocates out there who are trying to get this money restored. It’s a process that just getting started now.”
The program, which serves about 200 meals a day, is funded through the federal government. Then, the county takes those funds out and uses them to reimburse individual communities.
Brunelle said the nutrition program served a variety of different clients. The “Homebound Program” delivers meals to senior who are unable to get out of their homes while the “Congregate Program” serves meals to seniors at the Peekskill Senior Center, located at 4 Nelson Avenue.
“We have a lot of people that go the site and like to socialize,” Brunelle said. “The county gives us a lot of educational programs to relay to them on nutrition and physical fitness."
The county uses a formula that pays the city $3.20 for every meal that the program serves. The amount paid is capped based on the amount of meals that were served the year before.
The raw cost per meal for the city is $1.80.
It may seem like the city is making a profit on each meal served, but that isn’t the case, Burnell said.
“It doesn’t take into account the overhead, administrative costs, staffing, transportation or gas,” Brunelle said.
Although the city gets reimbursed about $280,000 from the program, it must pony up about $200,000 more to keep the program afloat, according to Brunelle.
Brunelle said he didn't expect the program to change the amount of meals that it served, but he ruled out the possibility for increases.
“I don’t know how the federal government prioritizes things,” Brunelle said. “But I would suspect that like everything else, we’re expecting cuts in all programs and unfortunately it affects services that are needed. I think in the long run, prevention is the key and this is a prevention program.”