Letters to the Editor: Meals on Wheels loses its compass

Age Well (formerly the Champlain Valley Agency on Aging) seems to have bought into the Trumpish philosophy that money is more important than people. A whole community of volunteers in Addison County is incredulous and angry that the Meals on Wheels coordinator on the ground in the county has been dismissed so that a computer program and people in an office in Essex Junction can try to replace her. 
Meals on Wheels delivers to needy people — usually seniors, often living alone — 5 days a week all year round. There are eight routes every day in the Middlebury area and I don’t know how many in Vergennes and Bristol. That’s a lot of drivers; I am just one of them. Among other things, the coordinator enlists and trains all the volunteers, schedules them, inspires them, which results in dedication and high morale, fills in on routes when necessary (usually at the last minute), runs a weekly senior meal (now cancelled) and a host of other supportive activities.  
The Age Well Board of Directors has allowed the staff, in anticipation of Federal funding cuts, to eliminate her position. The board and staff seem to think that a consolidation of information in their main office and occasional visits from 35 miles away can produce the same nutritional and companionship benefits. We all know it requires money to run such a program, but the human element is just as important for Meals on Wheels. 
The board has abdicated its responsibility to carry out Age Well’s mission “To provide the support and guidance that inspires our community to embrace aging with confidence.”
Susie Leonard
New Haven
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