BLACKFOOT, Idaho (KXPI) - Eyewitness News 3 anchor Todd Kunz found a local nonprofit that takes care of our seniors in more ways than one. He stopped by to see their operation in Blackfoot, and to Pay It Forward.
"There's just really a great need, now more than ever, because the food prices are going sky high, gas prices are sky high, and the seniors are living on fixed incomes. And they really need this place to be here," said director Pam Beus.
This place is the Bingham County Senior Citizens Center. It has been in Blackfoot for decades taking care of our seniors, both in the dining room, and at home with the Meals on Wheels program. The volunteers said the kitchen provides the best salad bar in Bingham County. And it's not just for seniors. Anyone can eat here, with a small donation.
The Meals on Wheels program has been around for 30 years, according to Beus. It delivers along four different routes, Monday through Thursday, with weekend meals delivered to stretch over the weekend for those who qualify.
The nonprofit center even owns the Sunset Manor across the street. It is a 48-unit low-income housing complex.
All of these programs have one goal in mind.
"Just helping the seniors to eat healthy, be active, and live alone for as long as they possibly can, staying in their own homes," said Beus.
Beus said there are nine board members, seven people on the staff, and about 68 volunteers. Jeremy Atwood is one of the crew. He is in charge of the Meals on Wheels prep.
"It helps get meals out to the people that need it. It helps everyone out in the community and stuff too," said Atwood. The meals get sealed, boxed up in warming bags, loaded in the cars, and off to delivery by guys like Al Stalder and Leon Peterson, both board members.
"We may be the only person that these people see during the day, and so we're also kind of a health check for people that are set in," said Stalder, sitting behind the wheel of a delivery car.
"It takes a lot of volunteers to run this place," added Peterson, sitting in the passenger seat.
"If you took those volunteers away, how does this function?" Kunz asked Beus and Assistant Director Tera Young.
"It doesn't. It doesn't," said Young.
"It doesn't function. We just run on all of our volunteers. They oversee all of our activities, Meals on Wheels," said Beus.
"Yep, I have 26 Meals on Wheels drivers," said Young.
Time to Pay It Forward.
"I would anticipate, given the environment out there today, and how expensive stuff is, that the need has gone through the roof," said Kunz to Beus and Young.
"It has. In our Meals on Wheels right now, we currently serve about 80 to 90 meals on wheels participants throughout the week. In house, we serve anywhere from 50 to 80 during the weeks. Friday is our biggest day. We have breakfast on Friday and so that is our biggest days for our buffets. Yeah, so it's grown. It's growing," said Young.
"It's a big buffet breakfast on Friday," said Beus.
"Hi. Who is Pam?" said a woman, walking up to Beus and Young, and interrupting the interview.
"I am," replied Beus to the woman.
"You're Pam? Pam, I'm Cassie (Leatham) with Mountain America Credit Union," said the woman, holding an envelope.
"Hi," said Beus.
"I'm interrupting you because we just want to thank you for all the stuff that you do for the seniors in our community, and we're going to give you $500 to continue doing what you do for them," said Leatham, pulling cash from the envelope.
"Awesome," said Beus.
"There you go. We really appreciate it," said Leatham.
You can find the Bingham County Senior Citizens Center at 20 East Pacific Street in Blackfoot. They are holding a fundraiser in October. The annual prime rib dinner will be Friday, October 21st, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tickets are 25-dollars in advance or $30 at the door. All proceeds go to the Meals on Wheels program.
"Pay It Forward" airs the second Wednesday of every month. If you know of a nonprofit organization or someone who deserves to be recognized for their contributions to the area, click on "News" then "Pay It Forward" under the menu stack at the top left of our homepage. Fill out the submission form, or send an email to Eyewitness News 3 anchor Todd Kunz at email@example.com.