Summit County, Ohio (October 2, 2018): Meals on Wheels of Stark & Wayne Counties and VANTAGE Aging, which operates Meals on Wheels of Northern Ohio, have agreed to merge their operations, creating a strategic alliance designed to address the growing need for senior services in northeast Ohio.
Meals on Wheels operates in virtually every community in America through a network of more than 5,000 independently-run local programs, according to Meals on Wheels America. Meals on Wheels of Stark & Wayne Counties, formed in 1973, has provided home-delivered and congregate meals for over 45 years. VANTAGE Aging offers a host of programs across the state of Ohio and its Meals on Wheels program has served Summit County for over 40 years. Together, the Meals on Wheels program will continue to serve the three contiguous counties and estimates delivery of nearly 600,000 meals each year as well as 48,000 congregate meals being served.
Both organizations have the same goals; to help meet the nutritional needs of people who are homebound due to age or disability. Both CEOs and each nonprofit’s Board of Directors agree, “agencies like ours need to band together to leverage our expertise and resources to expand services to one of the fastest growing populations,” said Ted Watko, CEO of Meals and Wheels of Stark & Wayne Counties. “Funders expect nonprofits to consider mergers to provide economies of scale, deliver services more efficiently, and bring them (funders) the best possible return on their community investment.”
Chuck Alderson, CFO/COO of Direction Home Akron-Canton Area Agency on Aging & Disabilities is in full support of the merger. “We recognize that together, the impact of this decision will have a reach beyond a singular program,” said Alderson. “The missions of both organizations are vital to the community of northeast Ohio and this merger ensures the stability of services for older adults.”
“By combining our competencies and common goals, we will be stronger and able to offer more services to benefit Stark and Wayne counties,” stated Watko. “Consolidation of administrative tasks, including payroll, community engagement, and client management systems will allow for program expansion and more sustainability. And we will provide uninterrupted services to our clients.”
VANTAGE Aging operates six programs in Summit County to support older adults’ desire to age at home. It also manages the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) in an additional 37 Ohio counties, which provides paid, on-the-job training to low-income, older adults. According to Karen Hrdlicka, President, and CEO of VANTAGE Aging, they have been exploring opportunities to expand services to seniors in counties where they offer other programs.
“VANTAGE already maintains a strong presence in Summit, Stark and Wayne counties with SCSEP,” said Hrdlicka. “By joining the Meals on Wheels programs across all three counties, we can expand additional senior services into Stark and Wayne to help support older adult’s daily living needs. Our goal is to help people age with dignity, and now all three counties will have access to our holistic services including non-medical home care, counseling and treatment for mental health, alcohol and other drug use issues, our Telecare program offered by RSVP and of course, our workforce programs.”
Will there be changes to the meals?
The goal is to provide uninterrupted service but offer expanded meal options. Delivery models and food for each program will initially remain the same. People wishing to receive frozen meals in Stark and Wayne Counties will eventually have access to a “Choice” menu, allowing clients to select from a variety of frozen entrees and side dishes they can mix and match to their own tastes. Summit County clients who may be unable to reheat frozen meals on their own will soon receive hot meals.
Why merge now?
By combining forces, the nonprofits are providing for stability and growth. The needs of the community span the geographic boundaries currently served by both programs, so merging helps cross those boundaries and increase services and outcomes. The growth of the senior population combined with funding cuts at the federal, state, and local level have caused all nonprofits to look at ways to improve their scale. Since 2010, Ohio’s senior population has seen significant growth:
- Summit County, 2016, 62 years and over is 20.1% of population, up from 17.3% in 2010
- Stark County, 2016, 62 years and over is 17.9% of population, up from 15% in 2010
- Wayne County, 2016, 62 years and over is 19.8% of population, up from 16.9% in 2010
About VANTAGE Aging
VANTAGE Aging provides high-quality programs to empower the economic, social, physical, and mental well-being of adults as they age. Programs include non-medical in-home care provided by Home Wellness Solutions. Behavioral Health Solutions offers mental health counseling and treatment for alcohol and other drug use issues to adults age 45 and older. Job training for low-income adults age 55 and older is offered through the Senior Community Service Employment Program. Evidenced-based volunteering to meet local and national needs are provided by volunteers with RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program). Meals on Wheels of Northern Ohio provides home-delivered and congregate meals to provide nutritional support to the homebound and disabled. Founded in 1975 as a senior citizen program, it has since become an independent, nationally respected organization with offices throughout the state. For more information, call 330.253.4597 or visit www.vantageaging.org.
About Meals on Wheels of Stark & Wayne Counties
Meals on Wheels of Stark & Wayne Counties is a non-profit agency that provides nutritional support to homebound individuals of all ages. Services include delivery of hot meals, breakfast meals, sack suppers, frozen meals, chopped meals, pureed meals and liquid supplements (pending physician referral), Monday through Friday. The agency has 13 sites throughout Stark and Wayne Counties and depends on volunteers to fulfill its mission. To learn more about the agency’s services and programs, call 330.832.7220, or visit www.mow-starkwayne.org.
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Director of Community Engagement