Some changes are coming to Meals on Wheels in Ulster County. Reporter Candace Dunkley tells us why Ulster County Executive Mike Hein says the program helps to give seniors more choices.

KINGSTON, N.Y -- Hundreds of Ulster County’s most vulnerable will soon see some changes to the Meals on Wheels program.

“Some folks simply need someone to provide some additional nutrition for them on a daily basis. Others need complex case work to make sure they can remain in their home,” said Ulster County executive Mike Hein.  

Right now Meals on Wheels serves about 300 seniors but will be able to serve more than 400 under the revamped system. Currently seniors in the program receive frozen meals weekly. But the new program gives seniors the choice between weekly frozen meals and daily hot meals.

“This is about the fact that that food is warm, that it’s delivered by a human being that sits down with my senior and notices that today my father or my mother is different than they were yesterday,” said Director of Ulster County Office for the Aging Kelly McMullen.

The program also allows for about 95 seniors who need special care to receive extra visits from human service professionals.

“Spends time with you, doing cognitive assessments, doing dementia screening, knowing the senior and knowing that there’s something different in their status,” said McMullen.  

Hein said Meals on Wheels this year will also provide a boost to the local economy. The County is partnering with Gateway Community Industries in Kingston to train paid workers and volunteers for the program.

“Some of the folks that we’ll be hiring may be people that are transitioning from unemployment to employment. Some folks may be receiving public assistance and this may be a good opportunity to be trained in really a growing industry,” said Helen Edelstein Vice President of Vocational Therapeutic Services.

The County hopes to start the new program in June.