JARED FIELDS • PICAYUNE STAFF
BURNET — While one Burnet County Meals on Wheels service has been extended, another had its final day June 19.
A shrinking budget led Williamson-Burnet County Opportunities to declare in May it would cut Meals on Wheels deliveries to Bertram and congregate meals in Burnet. Both were supposed to end June 19, but a flood of donations totaling about $6,000 saved the delivery service until the end of September. About 13 senior citizens in Bertram receive the service.
The congregate meals five days a week in Burnet were served to a handful of seniors but were cut to save costs.
“It’s been amazing to see the outpouring of help,” said Sara Reily, a Burnet County Meals on Wheels coordinator.
Meals cost $6.50 each when food and production costs are combined. Those who receive meals at home get 260 meals a year. Just for the 13 people served in Bertram, that adds up to almost $22,000 a year.
WBCO director Paula Goodson said the organization will work the rest of the fiscal year to raise money and ensure as many seniors as possible are served the coming year.
“The money almost helps us catch up. I made a commitment that if we could get the money, we’d go ahead and serve them,” Goodson said. “I’m hoping the cuts I’ve made already will serve us well for the next year to come.”
The Burnet County Meals on Wheels program is down to two full-time and two part-time employees.
“I told them to never say never. We may some day have the congregate program up and running again, but right now we had to close it down,” Reily said.
Although Reily said between three to eight people might come to lunch served in Burnet each day, those affected will miss more than the food.
“A lady says she lives by herself and is all alone. She looks forward to coming every day,” Reily said.
Goodson and Reily both expressed thankfulness for the recent support to the program but said more work is ahead.
“In a way, this has been a wakeup call for everybody that we can’t forget our seniors,” Goodson said.
Reily said the donations have bought the Burnet County program some time.
“I’m thankful for the help given, but I don’t want people to think we’re fine now,” Reily said. “We still have a fiscal year we’re trying to raise money for.”