The Grand Generation Center in Grand Island is facing a budget shortfall.
The downtown senior center annually receives financial support from Hall County, but due to rising costs from inflation, limited federal funding and low community donations, the amount is no longer enough.
At Tuesday’s Hall County Board of Commissioners meeting, GGC Board Member J.J. Green detailed GGC’s challenges while requesting approval for the county’s continued financial support for the upcoming fiscal year.
Green said there is an “urgent need” for such support.
At GGC, which is overseen by Senior Citizens Industries, more than 76,000 meals were served last year, including meals at the center itself and home delivery meals to Grand Island, Wood River and Doniphan, Green reported.
The program is mainly funded by the Meals Program of the Older Americans Act, and those funds are distributed by Midland Area Agency on Aging.
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“They calculate our funding on a per-plate basis,” Green said. “We submit a bid and a budget, and the things they come up with, quite frankly, we wonder how they figure what they’re giving us and what they’re not.”
Last year, GGC was awarded $4.50 per plate for the Grand Island location and $3.90 for home delivered meals.
This is not enough, Green said.
“When we calculate our expected gross costs for the center for the upcoming (2022-2023) fiscal year, we’re going to be about $9.09,” he said. “So you can see there’s quite a gap between what we get from Midland versus what our anticipated gross costs are.”
The rising costs are due to inflation increases for labor, food and supplies, Green said.
GGC also receives funding from the federal Title-20 program, local funds and voluntary cash.
City of Grand Island leases the building to GGC for $1 annually, and provides support for needs such as utilities, repairs and some essential items.
GGC faces a shortfall of $85,000, Green said.
Hall County annually provides $75,000 in support, which helps, but still leaves a deficit.
The local service is needed, Green emphasized.
“All the senior citizens are welcome to come in for a warm, cooked meal. There’s no cost to them,” he said. “There’s an allowable donation of $5. We don’t actually ask for the money, but sometimes we encourage a donation. If someone comes in younger than 60, it’s $7.”
Not everyone can afford this, though, which is why they utilize the center, said Green.
“Without your support and support from the City of Grand Island, (GGC) would not be able to continue this program for the elderly and help them remain in their own home instead of going to an assisted facility or things of that nature,” he said.
Commissioner Butch Hurst, who serves on Midland’s board, voiced support for GGC.
“We see the results that the donations are coming in and as far as I’m concerned that’s a good place to put our money,” he said.
Commissioner Karen Bredthauer suggested increasing the county’s contribution to $85,000.
Bredthauer, who also serves on Midland’s board, shared the donations received per-plate by GGC in February.
“We do get less donations than other facilities that serve the seniors,” she said. “For the month of February, which is our newest data, it was only $2.48 that was in donations per meal.”
Commissioner Jane Richardson said she was uncomfortable approving an increase without first seeing GGC’s records, arguing it was their fiscal duty.
“We could have every single committee before us that could use an extra, $85,000,” she said. “I’m on CASA, Humane Society. Without seeing financials, I’m a heavy no on that.”
Richardson said she would support approving the regular $75,000 contribution.
Commissioner Pam Lancaster advocated for GGC, noting that it is being used by those who most need it.
“They are, in general, people that are coming for the purpose that the Older Americans Act was initiated in the 60s,” she said, “and that’s for a warm meal, companionship and so on, because they don’t have all the advantages that the majority of us have.”
Commissioners approved continued support for GGC in the amount of $75,000.