Editor’s note: This is the final article in my series covering the Brookfield Senior Center. This article will cover the day-to-day operations of the center, including where the center receives funding and supplies. A sincere thank you to the Brookfield Senior Center staff and administrator Heidi Wampler for providing me with so much information during this process.

The Brookfield Senior Center is a nonprofit organization, which relies on state funding in order to continue serving community elderly citizens.

The center receives many foods and supplies for free, but has many expenditures in order to keep the center running.

The Brookfield Senior Center is a nonprofit organization working to keep area elderly citizens healthy. The senior center receives about 60 percent of their annual funding from the Northwest Missouri Area Agency on Aging. The remaining funds come from the Linn County Senior Citizens Tax Fund and funds raised by the center’s congregate dining and home deliveries. Even with the funding in place, the center has had to make up for gaps in funding by withdrawing from the center’s reserve fund.

In 2017, the senior center received $123,048 from the area agency, $34,000 from the Linn County Senior Citizens Tax Fund and about $47,000 from dining patrons and home deliveries. The total income in 2017 was $204,113, but the total expenses of the center were $241,502. The result was a $37,000 deficit, which had to be made up by the center’s reserve fund. Since Brookfield Senior Center administrator Heidi Wampler has been working for the center she has reduced food costs and day to day expenses. Wampler hopes to continue reducing expenses and add to the center’s reserve fund.

For Wampler, she wants to keep reducing costs.

“The goal is not to to take money from the reserve and then it can start becoming savings,” Wapler said.

The area agency uses a formula to fund the senior centers of Northwest Missouri. The formula is broken down by demographics, historical performance of the center and population. The Brookfield Senior Center has never had a lapse in funding from the area agency.

Area agencies are also having trouble finding more funding. Missouri reduced funding in 2008 and has not replaced the funding lost since then. The federal government has added funding this year, but may end up rescinding the funding soon.

According to a Northwest Missouri Area Agency on Aging representative Rebecca Flaherty, she wants to continue supporting senior centers.

“Our main goal is to fund [centers] as completely as possible,” Flaherty said.

The senior center receives many supplies for free from the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri. The food bank makes food, cleaning supplies and other supplies like ice melt available to the senior center at no cost. However, the center still relies on other food vendors to buy many fresh ingredients. According to Wampler, the average daily food expense for the center is about $208. The center spent about $54,000 in 2017 on food.

According to Wampler, food costs make up most of the budget.

“The majority of checks I write in a month go towards purchasing food from our vendors,” Wampler said.

This May, center received about 5,000 pounds of food, supplies and commodity boxes. Much of the food received were shelf-stable meals, or emergency meals for home delivery participants. The center received a pallet of ice-melt for the future as well.

The May shipment also contained 65 commodity boxes. Commodity boxes are made available to the food bank by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. According to the food bank website, the goal is to improve the health of low-income citizens by supplementing their diets with healthy food options. Each commodity box weighs about 30 pounds and contains shelf-stable foods, beverages and sometimes cleaning supplies. The commodity boxes are given out once a month by the center to seniors 60 years old or older.

On average, the center receives about 3,000 pounds of food and supplies from the food bank. Every month Wampler has to bid on food, to make sure the center does not run out. Many supplies will last a long time. Earlier this year, the center received a large delivery of potatoes and was able to use them for an entire month.

Wampler has been finding ways to cut back and save, while still providing for the community. In March, Wampler started purchasing bulk items from a new food vendor. According to Wampler, she has been able to save a lot of money. A program started by the center called the Meal Champion, allows local businesses and residents the ability to fund the center for a day, or more. Since last June the center has raised over $10,000 from the Meal Champion program.

The center relies on volunteer support. About 50 people volunteer annually to deliver meals, unload food deliveries and generally help out the senior center staff.

Wampler says it takes more than money to keep the center running.

“We rely 100 percent on our volunteers,” Wampler said. “But we’re always looking for more volunteers. We’re very thankful for the support we receive.”

Wampler continues to look into new organizations and groups to help fund the center. Soon the center will be a member of Meals on Wheels. The organization provides grant opportunities and supplies to many senior centers. Additionally, Wampler plans to start more fundraisers for the center.