Tuesday, August 02, 2011


So what is going on with the Ulster County Meals-On-Wheels program? Well, a few weeks ago, the Programs Education & Services Committee met and we reviewed the status of the contract bid process. The Meals-On-Wheels subcommittee, chaired by Cathy Terrizzi, offered the continuing report showing that the bid process for potential food service companies is expected to go out mid-August.

To what level the Legislature can influence the requirements in the contract bid is a continual debate not just in this instance, but just about any time a contract is offered for a service through the county. This was one of the complex issues we faced in the former Operations & Efficiency Committee last year.

As the weeks pass, the time to deliberate on our ability to shape the proposal is wasted and the window to offer and collect bids diminished. Terrizzi echoes the rest of us when she says we want to see what is in the contract and don’t want to be left out of the loop but thought we should let the process begin and at least review the contract before it goes out.

My buddy Dave Donaldson said the obvious in that we, as a legislature, direct policy and it is up to the departments to carry out that policy. So he joins the rest of the 32 of us in that statement. A number of us acknowledge that this is a stumbling block and always has been and as pointed out by Don Gregorius, we should review the contract before it is signed because we have had problems with other contracts in the past, this way everyone is on the same page and we don’t have to start the process all over again. As you can tell, the Opps & Efficiency Committee really had it's hands full.

At this point, the Meals Sub-Committee is scheduled to meet once again and have asked Deputy Sudlow to join us so that we can better evaluate the amount of input that the Legislature can have on this bid. We understand there are limitations for both policy and operations when it comes to this program because there is Federal money injected into the process but, I would agree that we need to flesh out what the county desires when it comes to delivering hot meals to our home-bound seniors.

When it comes to Ulster County using vendors of any kind, it is preferable to engage local companies. Hopefully within our county. To help smaller outfits compete with some of the larger conglomerates, the issue of localized credits was discussed. One avenue was to modify our purchasing laws through resolution where the Legislature can actually do some good within the county. Terrizzi closed the conversation by verbalizing what we all agree on in that the Legislature would have to come together on this and inject it into county policy.

So will the bid include the option for frozen meals? Will it allow diminished home visits by the delivery service?  Will seniors be once again, be the way out of a financial crisis? This is what we want to discuss at that next meeting. Keep in mind; this is one way in which the county reaches out through personal contact with many of the seniors. They aren't just clients.

Chairman Harris said they have been delivering meals five days a week and there should be some kind of compromise. That will be one of the opinions at the July 12th Meals Sub-Committee meeting. It is with great hope that Mr Sudlow is able to attend to help us through this process.


Anonymous said...

Regardless of who gets the contract to deliver meals, they should be delivered hot and ready to eat. If someone gives written permission to deliver otherwise, so be it, but the company should plan for the better service. Lets be the American society we claim to be.

Anonymous said...

Why do I get the feeling that if there was a way to cast off yet another service to our seniors, this Legislature would do so in a heartbeat. I'm looking for a fresh start with this 23 member body next year. Please make something of yourselves and make good on all the promises for a change.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes the government just has to dictate that the private sector must do the right thing. There are too few examples of private corporations doing what helps people on their own.
So long as the supplies are available, the winning firm should buy locally first every time. That's what should be in the Legislation. Keep the local farms in the loop.