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Vilas, Forest, Price Counties To Suspend In-Person Senior Meals; No Changes In Oneida County

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The director of the Vilas County Aging and Disability Resource Center said she was torn all weekend about closing her senior meal sites across the county.

On one hand, the meals serve as an important nutritional and social resource for the elderly.

But the gatherings could also be dangerous as the COVID-19 virus spreads.

On Monday, ADRC Director Sue Richmond said Vilas County will close its in-person senior meal services starting Thursday while keeping up its home delivery program.

She called it a difficult choice, but one based on the best interests of seniors in the area.

“The health and the safety of our senior population in Vilas County is one of our top priorities in Vilas County,” Richmond said.  “We’ve been working really closely with our public health department, basically in constant contact with them to keep up on the evolving situation around COVID-19.”

Price County and Forest County served their last in-person meals on Monday.

Forest County’s senior meals will be available only for carryout or home delivery.

“[Seniors] really depend on these meals to make ends meet.  They may not get meals every day,” said Department on Aging Director Tammy Queen.  “For certain people, we deliver more than one meal a day.  We deliver sometimes two to three meals a day just to help supplement their needs.”

While suspending in-person meals may slow the transmission of viruses, it means seniors aren’t getting needed socialization.

“I’ve been torn about this all weekend, toying with the idea.  We want to make sure that the seniors are getting food and they’re socializing,” Richmond said.  “Isolation is so devastating to the seniors, but we also want to make sure that they are safe.”

As of Monday, Oneida County said it’s not making any changes to its senior meal program.

Ben worked as the Special Topics Correspondent at WXPR from September 2019 until November 2021. He now contributes occasionally to WXPR. During his full-time employment, his main focus was reporting on environment and natural resources issues in northern Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula as part of The Stream, a weekly series.
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