Windom Senior Dining gets green light

The Windom Senior Dining program, which was slated to close Feb. 22, will remain open, said Nadine Reiser, director of Senior Nutritional Services at Volunteers of America, which operates the program.

The meals will be prepared and packaged at the Southwest Senior Center and then transported to Windom, said Reiser.

"We see it as a win-win situation," she said. "We can still continue to provide meals. It's in a different manner, but the seniors can still have an opportunity to be together."

After the decision to close the dining program was made public, many people, including Park Board staff, participating seniors and Councilmember Scott Benson (11th Ward) called Volunteers of America with concerns.

"I was surprised because last year when this came up, they had an agreement that they would keep it open if the program hit an average of 20 people, and they were averaging over 20 people," said Benson.

Given that Volunteers of America is under budget-cutting pressures, Benson added, he is pleased that the organization reached a compromise with the dining-program participants.

"I'm happy that this can stay open, and they can serve the people that they have always served," Benson said. "At the same time, we can move ahead and have an opportunity to prove that we can get even more people there."

The dining program will continue to be evaluated, Reiser said.

"To see how it's going, we will evaluate the operation on an on-going basis," Reiser said. "Because [the decision to close it] was a financial decision, that would be part of the evaluation process, too."

Seniors wishing to dine at the Windom Senior Dining program need to call the Southwest Senior Center, 824-5512, two days in advance to reserve a spot.