By Carolyn Lee
The Imperial Republican
The rumors are untrue. The Imperial Community Center will not be closing.
That’s according to Board Chairman Bill Sharp. “We don’t have any problem. We’re getting along just fine,” he said.
Rumors reportedly began spreading following the resignation of two cooks, followed by the resignation of Director Becky Berry.
Sharp said cooks Wendy Evans and Kayla Holmes quit May 8. Berry’s resignation was effective May 30.
Berry said she “needed something different to do.” She noted that there are “lots more rules and regulations regarding food handling” and paperwork than when she became director six and one-half years ago.
However, the board talked Berry into remaining as a part-time bookkeeper. She will also prepare the reports that the state and the West Central Nebraska Area Agency on Aging (WCNAAA) require.
The Community Center is funded entirely by the WCNAA and donations. It receives no tax dollars.
Sharp said the board is in the process of interviewing people for a new “coordinator” position, rather than a director.
The coordinator will assist the cook, coordinate the cook and janitor and perform many of Berry’s previous duties.
One cook has been hired at present—Danielle Salazar. The janitor position is being advertised.
Volunteers are coordinating the thrift store.
“The board has no intention of closing” the center, Sharp reiterated.
Senior farmers’ market program offered
The Imperial Community Center is again offering the Nebraska Department of Agriculture’s Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program.
Board Chairman Bill Sharp said seven people have signed up for the program so far. A total of 18 low-income seniors may participate from the Center.
The Nebraska Department of Agriculture’s (NDA) Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) has officially begun for the year. In its 12th year, the program provides low-income senior citizens with coupons to purchase, at no cost to them, locally grown fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs and honey from NDA certified produce vendors.
For the 2012 program, NDA received a $232,137 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
“This program is extremely beneficial, not only to the more than 5,000 low-income senior citizens that we expect to participate, but also for the over 500 growers that have been certified to accept the coupons,” said NDA Director Greg Ibach. “The popularity of this program continues to grow each year.”
The SFMNP, established as a pilot program in 2000, and re-authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill, provides low-income seniors with coupons that can be exchanged for fresh produce, honey and herbs at farmers’ markets, roadside stands, and U-pick operations. The program is intended to increase the consumption of agricultural commodities by expanding or aiding in the development of farmers’ markets and other outlets.
Nebraska’s SFMNP is a joint effort between NDA, Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Medicaid and Long-Term Care—State Unit on Aging, Nebraska DHHS Commodity Supplemental Food Program, Nebraska Area Agencies on Aging and Nebraska senior centers.
Coupons are available to low-income seniors, during the month of June, from their local senior centers. A map identifying the locations of Nebraska’s farmers’ markets, roadside stands and U-pick operations is available online at www.ourbesttoyou.ne.gov or by calling 800-422-6692. Coupons can be redeemed at NDA-certified produce vendors only. Those vendors must display a NDA-certified stall sign.
Low-income seniors interested in more information about SFMNP coupons should contact the Nebraska DHHS Medicaid and Long-Term Care—State Unit on Aging at 800-942-7830.