Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz has called upon Edwin Mendez-Santiago, the Commissioner of the New York City Department for the Aging, to veto proposals that would change the City Meals-on-Wheels program in the Bronx.
Recently, a plan was unveiled where the Meals-on-Wheels program would deliver several frozen meals to its recipients once a week rather than daily visits. The proposals also call for the consolidation of the seventeen borough-wide contracts into just three, in an attempt to save money. Assemblyman Dinowitz has been contacted by local groups within his district regarding these changes, and has several concerns about them.
In a letter to Mr. Mendez-Santiago, Assemblyman Dinowitz wrote, "The representatives from the Riverdale YM-YWHA, the Mosholu Montefiore Community Center and other agencies articulately explained the concerns we all have over the delivery of frozen meals. As you know, the fact that meals are delivered each day serves a function above and beyond providing a meal. The personal visit is important to many seniors. Those who deliver meals can also act as the 'eyes and ears' of the agency, putting the agency in a much better position to help those in need.
"Perhaps even more important than the frozen meals issue is the intent by DFTA to combine seventeen contracts into three super contracts by dividing the Bronx into three regions. Each of the agencies in my district that deliver meals does an excellent job. They know the community, and they know their clients. The possibility of a huge contract going to an outside agency that doesnít know the community or the people is extremely disturbing. Rumors are already swirling about that this is part of an effort to possibly direct the contracts to politically connected agencies. I certainly hope that is not true."
"Itís amazing that the City is looking to tamper with the process of the borough which has the reputation for running the best Meals-on-Wheels programs. While you have claimed that the changes you have put forth would save money, there is no evidence to back that up. The possible savings of a relatively small amount of money is far outweighed by the negative impacts that these proposed changes would cause. If it ainít broke, donít fix it. I strongly urge you to abandon this process and work to strengthen the already existing programs that have so successfully served thousands and thousands of senior citizens," concluded Dinowitz.