The Ocean County Board of Commissioners is getting ready to approve dozens of contracts that provide lifelines to senior citizens who are vulnerable and frail and in need of assistance.
“If a senior in Ocean County needs food, we provide it, if they need outreach services, we can help, if they need legal assistance, we are there for them,” said Director of the Ocean County Board of Commissioners Joseph H. Vicari, Chairman of the Ocean County Office of Senior Services. “Ocean County does all it can to make sure our seniors continue to live independently in their homes.
“With the largest senior population in the state, close to 200,000, it’s imperative that our senior programs and services deliver positive results,” Vicari said.
Under the contracts scheduled to be approved by the Board of Commissioners during its Jan. 18 regular meeting, a $3.4 million contract to Community Services Inc. provides hundreds of thousands of home delivered meals, in addition to congregate meal services, weekend and holiday home delivered meals, social services support and evidence based health programs for the elderly.
“The home delivered meals and the congregate meals programs are truly the centerpiece of our senior programs,” Vicari said.
Vicari, who was joined by Maria LaFace, Director of the Ocean County Office of Senior Services during the Board’s Jan. 11 preboard meeting, noted modifications to the senior meals programs during the height of the COVID 19 pandemic assured the elderly living in Ocean County that someone would be delivering a meal to them which also provided a wellness check when others could not.
“During the pandemic we closed down congregate meal sites in order to minimize the spread of the virus,” Vicari said. “We however made sure that those seniors received a meal at their home if they decided to receive it.
“Last year, we began to slowly reopen our congregate meal sites allowing our seniors to not just have a healthy meal but to socialize again,” he said.
In 2022, Ocean County, through its provider, delivered 307,450 meals. In addition, almost 10,000 meals were served at the congregate nutrition sites which are now open in Stafford Township, Waretown and with modified access in Brick and Jackson townships.
“We saw the number of meals almost triple at the congregate nutrition sites last year,” Vicari said. “We anticipate those numbers to increase in the New Year.”
Ocean County anticipates almost 324,000 meals to be home delivered in 2023.
Other providers expected to be awarded contracts for senior services, in particular social support services and family caregiver support are Manchester Township, $115,000; Toms River Senior Center, $115,000; Long Beach Island Community Center, $225,000; Visiting Homemaker Service of Ocean County Inc., $319,882; Catholic Charities Diocese of Trenton – Fix It Program, $69,000, and $94,713, social support services; Jewish Federation of Ocean County, $43,000; Brick Township, $165,500 including congregate meals; Preferred Behavioral Health of New Jersey, $120,000; Lakewood Community Services Corp., which also provides home delivered meals and social support services, $939,866; Community Health Law, $130,366; Southern Ocean Medical Center, $15,000; Caregiver Volunteers of Central Jersey, $180,484; Monmouth Medical Center, Southern Campus, $65,000; and Northern Ocean Habitat for Human, $79,293.
Also, Community Medical Center Foundation, $40,000; Interfaith Health and Support Services of Southern Ocean County Inc., $41,117; Plumsted Township, $10,000; Jackson Township, $17,700; Point Pleasant, $30,990; Compass 82 Inc., $100,000; Ocean Township, including congregate meals site, $107,845; Stockton University, $21,295; Inspire NJ including congregate meal services, $102,200; and the Ocean County Board of Social Services, $735,453, including funding for senior assisted transportation services, safe housing and transportation services, adult protective services, comprehensive care management services and caregiver support.
“Ocean County has developed an outstanding network of service providers for our senior citizens,” Vicari said. “Starting with our Office of Senior Services to Community Services Inc. to the Board of Social Services and the dozens more outside agencies, it’s together we make a significant difference for the aging population in Ocean County.”
Vicari encouraged seniors or their caregivers to contact the Ocean County Office of Senior Services at 732-929-2091 to determine what programs and services may be available.
“The office served over 40,000 residents last year,” Vicari noted. “It is a central clearing house for our senior programs. This is the best starting point for seniors in need of services.”