Brenda Burns, executive director of Sullivan County’s Meals on Wheels program, said the reopening is due to the generosity of the communities the program supports.
“After the amazing support of Ruger Investment Castings in Newport, NH, the local community, the City of Claremont and supporters like the Claremont and Charlestown VFWs, we will begin contacting customers who missed weekend meals to let them know they will be available again this year,” Burns said.
The cancellation of the weekend meals was due to the state cutting $55,000 from the Meals on Wheels program in Sullivan County.
The program provides a vital lifeline to challenged and vulnerable residents. Burns added that Claremont was particularly hard hit because the city is one of the poorest communities in New Hampshire. Isolated residents rely heavily on social programs like Meals on Wheels to make ends meet and maintain a basic quality of life, Burns said.
Officially called Sullivan County Food Services, the program has served seniors, individuals with disabilities and low-income families since 1972.
Meal-On-Wheels provide a lifeline to those who may be suffering from hunger or malnutrition. The program also helps reduce the burden on caregivers and families, allowing vulnerable individuals to continue living independently by ensuring they receive necessary nutrition.
“The resources I found indicate that Sullivan County is the second poorest county in New Hampshire,” she said. “Income reported by current clients shows that more than 50 percent of those we serve are at or below poverty levels.”
The Claremont City Council voted to provide $10,000 from its current budget to help stabilize Meals on Wheels.
Burns said the cut was the result of a state budget error.
“State officials admitted there was an error in calculating the distribution of units specifically, Title XX. The state attempted to correct the matter, but did not do as described. Some funds were returned, but not to the same level of loss.”
“It sounds like an administrative horror story,” said state legislator Walter Stapleton, R-Clermont, who has been vocal in his opposition to the state’s cuts.