Truckee senior meals prepares for next move | SierraSun.com

Truckee senior meals prepares for next move

Sierra Countis
Sierra Sun

Sierra Senior Services’ meal service is looking to move to another temporary kitchen after the organization was left homeless when frozen pipes burst and flooded the Senior Center in early January.

“It’s actually been very difficult. Our organization has become fragmented,” said Nutrition Program Manager Joyce Berry of Sierra Senior Services.

However, she added that the adversity brought an unexpected benefit.

“This disaster was actually a great thing in many ways,” Berry said. “It’s brought our staff together.”

Senior Services is working out a few glitches with Tahoe Truckee Unified School District officials in order to arrange the use of Sierra Mountain Middle School’s kitchen to prepare meals for seniors, especially because the group’s use of Northstar’s Martis Valley Grille kitchen will expire on April 15.

“The fact that the school district is helping with the process and disaster response will make a huge difference,” said Senior Services Executive Director Melanie Kauffman.

The Senior Center endured extensive property damage when frozen pipes burst on Jan. 13 and again two days later during a record cold snap, flooding the kitchen and dining room.

The Meals on Wheels program continues to serve about 60 home-delivered meals a day, Kauffman said. Staff has been using the kitchen at Northstar to prepare meals. About 20 apartment residents are taken by bus daily to be served their meals at a makeshift dining room at Tahoe Forest Hospital.

“It’s been OK. It’s been really fun getting out and being with friends,” said Truckee Donner Senior Apartments resident Bridget Weiszhaar as she enjoyed a chili dog and potato salad at Tahoe Forest on Friday afternoon.

About 11 Senior Apartment residents are unable to make the trip to the hospital everyday for lunch, Berry said. The Area 4 Agency on Aging approved the group’s request to serve home-delivered meals at the Senior Apartments. But that service’s continuation is also in question as the meal service was only supposed to be short-term, Berry said.

Once the middle school kitchen location is secured, the use of the dining room at the hospital will no longer be necessary as the school has a dining room as well. The middle school’s kitchen is larger and centrally located, Kauffman said.

The 20-minute drive from Northstar to the hospital to deliver meals five days a week hasn’t been easy in the past few months, but the volunteers and staff have kept a positive attitude given the circumstances, Berry said.

Senior Services staff continues to work out of temporary office space donated by Blue Sky Homes, Kauffman said.

It will likely be three to four months before the Senior Center will be up and running again. Bogged down by insurance matters, the Senior Center remains vacant and in disrepair, Kauffman said.

All Senior Services activities have been put on hold since the Senior Center flooded. Weiszhaar said she misses the music, movies, and knitting and meditation classes she enjoyed at the center.

“I’ll be so glad when it’s open again,” Weiszhaar said.