KIMBERLY, Idaho — Earlier this month, Governor Brad Little and the state announced $300 million would go to help small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. So far, Idaho has distributed more than $27 million from the Idaho Rebound Cash Grant program to 3,000 businesses, including Kimberly's Ageless Senior Center.
The center closed and canceled all of its events, including bingo nights and other fundraisers, that help bring in money. Instead, the center focused on its takeout food service.
The center received its grant money on May 19 and will now direct it towards the meal program. The meal program has been an essential resource for seniors in the area over the past few weeks, allowing people who were potentially at-risk or too uncomfortable to go to the grocery store a chance to enjoy fresh meals.
Ageless Senior Center treasurer Cheryl Arledge says they applied for the grant on the first day it was offered before spending weeks waiting anxiously.
"We were eventually going to have to close until we got that grant that kept us going," says Arledge.
The lack of events and increasing prices for food and to-go compartments for patrons added to the center's troubles. The meal program also expanded its food service from two to three days. The added day forced the need for more workers, plus cleaning and personal protective equipment.
The extra day also resulted in more and more people coming to get meals.
"We were probably at 50, 60 meals a week on Thursday and Friday. Now [with] the three days, we're up to almost 150 people per week," says Arledge.
The group is happy and able to breathe again after not knowing the senior center's fate. They're now focusing on their weekly menus and the sanitation and hygiene of the facility since they interact with a high-risk popular each day. Workers wear face masks and gloves for the majority of the day. They also have wipes, Lysol, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant. The kitchen also gets regularly scrubbed to ensure all surfaces remain clean.
Ageless Senior Center is currently accepting donations and asks for anyone who is ordering a meal to call in advance so the meal will be ready upon your arrival. For more information, click here.