Meals on Wheels People may cut Village dining service
Meals on Wheels People's Multnomah Village location is considering discontinuing its afternoon dining service at the Multnomah Arts Center, citing the high cost of rent and a relatively low turnout.
Julie Piper Finley, the nonprofit's director of marketing, said discussions are still in the exploratory phase and no formal decisions have been made. But if the nonprofit does decide to discontinue lunch service at the MAC, she said, it would move participants to its Beaverton dining location at the Elsie Stuhr Senior Center on Southwest Hall Boulevard.
"We're trying to be good stewards of our donor's money, and the rent in the (MAC) is expensive," Piper Finley said. "Without a lot of people who eat lunch there, it's not necessarily the most economical place to be."
Multnomah's turnout is "up and down," Piper Finley said, but the Beaverton location consistently serves more diners: 85-100 people every day versus 10-40 people at the MAC on Southwest Capital Highway.
She said many diners come to the MAC by car, so she's less worried about access to the Beaverton location. Still, she acknowledged that some Multnomah diners were and will be upset by the proposal.
"When you make a decision like this, even if it's for the best of intentions and even if 98 percent of people think it's fine," Piper Finley said, "especially when you're dealing with an older audience, any time you make a change there are people that are going to be mad at you."
Meals on Wheels is a national nonprofit offering meal delivery service to area seniors. The People branch operates out of Multnomah and Washington counties in Oregon, as well as Clark County in Washington. It also has a number of dining centers around the coverage area that offer lunch on weekdays — a separate service from its weekday meal deliveries.
Piper Finley confirmed that the nonprofit has already decided to discontinue its Sherwood lunch service and will relocate those diners to Tualatin. Lunch service also will end at the organization's center in Vancouver.
Meal deliveries will not be affected by the proposed Multnomah Village dining center closure, she said.
In March, Meals on Wheels made national headlines when it was singled out in the Trump administration's list of organizations that could receive less federal funding. But Piper Finley stressed that the local chapter's proposed dining service consolidation and cuts were in the works months before the proposed federal budget was announced.
"The decisions for closing these centers came long before President Trump's budget came out," she said. "It's not a reflection of President Trump's recent budget announcements."
Piper Finley said that her organization's priority is to be able to provide meals to all who ask, and that it is trying to be "cognizant" of the fact that 60 percent of its funding comes from community donations.
"Our bottom line is to be able to give meals to everyone that asks for one," she said. "By closing a few locations, we're going to be able to feed more people."