Director’s Note: Community Conversations

| Senior Solutions News

By Mark Boutwell, Executive Director

Mark Boutwell

Mark Boutwell, Executive Director

“We live in a service desert.”
“People think Weston is a gold town but it’s not.”
“How do we get more advocacy in Montpelier for issues affecting older Vermonters?”
“It would be great if we could get soup or stew for our home-delivered meals sometimes?”
“How do we sign up to volunteer with Senior Solutions?”

These were some of the many questions and comments I discussed this past Sunday, when Lead Case Manager Malcolm Hamblett and I spent a couple hours meeting with about 20 community members at The HUB at Weston, a restaurant focused on facilitating community involvement. The HUB at Weston and New Thought Vermont organizers brought together this group of community members, service providers, a community nurse, a town selectperson, retired social services leaders and others. They were interested in specifics such as how to facilitate a timely Medicaid Choices for Care application as well as larger geo-political issues such as the housing and workforce shortages in Vermont. Mostly they were interested in what services Senior Solutions offers and how we could have more of a presence in the greater Weston area.

Perhaps it’s because of my family heritage as a preacher’s son, but I love doing these events. I love joining in conversations such as how we make our voices heard in Montpelier regarding the needs of older Vermonters. How can we collectively get the attention of our state legislators regarding the critical disparities in state policies and funding that keep so many older Vermonters sidelined as second-class citizens, surviving on the diminishing scraps of state and federal benefits funding?

This month we are celebrating March for Meals, showcasing the many benefits of Meals on Wheels, local congregate meals and other nutritional benefit programs for older Vermonters. As you all know, these programs provide many important benefits to Vermonters besides a daily nutritious meal. Significantly, as the state emerges from the ravages of the COVID pandemic, these programs provide badly needed regular social connectedness in our highly rural state. And it’s no surprise that social isolation has inordinately affected our older rural residents. This was one of the topics of discussion on Sunday in Weston.

The conversation then turned to the State’s budget priorities. While the population of Vermonters aged 65 and older is projected to bump up to almost 30% within the next ten to fifteen years, and the percentage of Vermonters ages 0 – 17 is projected to decrease to below 20%, many participants voiced their frustration that a disproportionate amount of state funding is being directed to the shrinking demographic of children and youth. The Governor’s budget proposed several million dollars in increases for programs for this demographic while the bill (H109) proposing increases for the Meals on Wheels targeted to older Vermonters would only add a fraction of that amount to the existing insufficient funding.

Many people in the room on Sunday were asking, what could be done to bring more attention to the dire needs of folks in their area and across the state. They were willing to lend their voices and offer their meeting spaces to help get the word out. Please join them in contacting your local legislators to support additional funding for Meals on Wheels, adult day centers, rural transportation, housing initiatives and workforce incentives that will help shore up the infrastructure of services for our valued older Vermonters, for today and into the future.

Meals & Nutrition

With funds from the Older Americans Act, Senior Solutions helps local partners provide meals to seniors. We’ll also help you apply for government-sponsored benefit programs.

Meals on Wheels 

Community Meals

Nutrition Counseling and Education 

Our dietician can help you plan meals based on your personal health profile. Contact the HelpLine for more information.

Financial Assistance Programs for Food

Restaurant Ticket Program

Join us for lunch at the Windsor Diner, 135 Main Street, Windsor! Those 60+ are eligible to use a ticket for a free meal from the designated menu at the Diner. Tickets are valid on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 10 am to 3 pm. Seniors can get tickets by calling the Help Line and have them mailed or by visiting the Windsor Food Shelf during Senior Solutions drop-in hours.


Meals and Nutrition videos with Thom Simmons, Nutrition and Wellness Director.