Keep Cooking for Sussex Seniors
Sussex County’s Senior Population Is Growing
One in every three Sussex Countians is 60 years of age or more. Sussex County has a higher percentage of senior citizens than anywhere else in the state and higher than the national average. The demand for senior citizen nutrition services is exploding right along with the growing population. As more and more senior citizens advance in years, the demand for nutrition services continues to grow and accelerate for at least the next two decades.
While CHEER has continuously received favorable recognition from Public Health officials for the condition which it maintains its kitchen, during a recent inspection, the Public Health Inspector noted “there was not adequate storage and production space for the volume of meals being prepared”. We are using outside portable storage and refrigeration units, but even they cannot accommodate the volumes of food and paper products needed to serve the number of people we are currently serving.
After repeated attempts, the State has made it clear that they will not financially support expansion of the current commercial kitchen in the Adams Building. Three years ago, the state also announced that it would no longer fund repairs or replacement for the antiquated equipment in the kitchen. Such repairs easily cost thousands of dollars for each occurrence. Within the past year, the State began charging rent for the space CHEER occupies in the Adams Building which has increased the cost we must charge the State for each meal prepared. Through multiple inquiries, we have been informed that private foundations will not consider funding capital requests for construction and equipment which would be permanently installed components of a State-owned facility.
In consideration of the above, it will not be possible to obtain funding needed to expand the current commercial kitchen facilities/capacity at the Adams facility. If we are to continue serving the nutritional needs of Sussex County’s senior citizens, it will be necessary for us to develop commercial kitchen capacity at an alternate site.
CHEER’s solution to be able to insure the continuation of a high quality nutrition program capable of serving the demands of Sussex County’s expanding and aging senior citizen population is to construct an entirely new commercial kitchen at the site of the CHEER Community Center located at 20520 Sand Hill Road, Georgetown. The new facility would replace all of the CHEER meal production currently being accomplished at the Adams facility, combine with the 18 year-old commercial kitchen at the CHEER Community Center and incorporate additional dry and cold storage space along with expanded food production capabilities capable of supporting growing demand for at least the next 10 year period.
The estimated cost for this project including:
- Engineering and design
- Construction, including renovation and new construction
- Site work & utilities
- Equipment including refrigeration, food preparation and cooking
TOTAL COST $ 1,365,000.
This project will provide the capacity to produce 2,625 meals daily plus service the needs of the CHEER Community Center guests and participants.
Contingent upon funding, we hope to have this desperately needed new commercial kitchen facility operational by February 2021. Recognizing that the design capacity of the current kitchen is one half of the current daily meal demand/output and that the current facility is 30% beyond its designed service life, the need for this new commercial kitchen and the capacity/capability it would provide is now needed at the earliest possible time.
CHEER already owns the land and will commence formal design and engineering as soon as adequate funding becomes available. Construction cannot begin until the funding to complete the construction phase is obtained and equipment can be purchased.
The total cost of this new commercial kitchen over its entire service life is less than the cost of a single cup of coffee each day for each individual meal served. For the price of a daily cup of coffee for each person serviced each day for the next 20 years, we can provide the infrastructure necessary to insure that every Sussex County Senior Citizen will have the opportunity for a nutritionally balanced hot meal each and every day. If your friend or family member is one of those 1,700 served today or at some time during the next 20 years, is it worth the price of a cup of coffee to be able to remain nutritionally secure in your own home?
You Can Help Support COOKING For Sussex Seniors
You may not even know you know them, but you do! The senior citizens of Sussex County, Delaware, need your help. Last year, CHEER fed 4,800 of Sussex County’s senior citizens. Each of the 332,000 meals was produced in CHEER’s central kitchen. The expanding senior population in Sussex has outgrown the capacity of this obsolete kitchen. It must be expanded and modernized. Won’t you please help support our senior citizen meal program for decades to come?