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Fort Bend County, At Large
By Cheryl Skinner

This column expresses the personal opinions/views of the writer. If you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column, write a SIGNED letter to the editor. Name can be withheld by request with a valid day time phone number.


Gourmet vs. fast food prices?

While it may outwardly appear that the Needville Senior Citizens issue has quieted down, nothing could be farther from the truth. The Needville Ministerial Alliance continues to try to negotiate an agreement with the Fort Bend Senior Citizens Organization, but thus far has not been successful in getting help or adequate answers to some of the important questions put forth.

One interesting thing that has surfaced is the reported cost of serving meals to the seniors. The Fort Bend Senior Citizens Organization produced a spreadsheet that offered more questions than answers. One former board member said the cost of serving one meal in Needville is $16 per meal, while serving the same menu in Katy is only $2.95. Supposedly, things such as gas, employees and ďadministrativeĒ costs were factored in. The City of Katy supplies a city-paid site manager, the facilities and pays all expenses, so the costs are substantially less, officials were told.

However, while Needville is in a highly rural portion of Fort Bend County, and thus might take more gas to bring the food to the center, as originally claimed by the director of the non-profit organization, the Needville Ministerial Alliance has always (and still does) provide the facility, utilities, maintenance, and one full home-cooked meal on Friday. So, folks are rightfully asking just how did the costs of providing a meal to seniors in Needville jump to gourmet prices while in Katy the same menu is equivalent to a fast food drive-through?

Canít blame this one on gas. Katy is 19.6 miles from Rosenberg and Needville is 10.9 miles from Rosenberg. So, it must just take more administration to do Needville than it does to do Katy, right? Who knows.

When Meals on Wheels food provider had a kitchen fire in December of 2004, the director of Fort Bend Senior Citizens said the organization paid $2.94 per meal and served 300 seniors. Prices must have really changed since that time. If the $2.94 is still correct, Katy is paying a penny for administrative services and Needville is paying $13.05 per meal. Other locations pay different prices. In Rosenberg the cost per meal is $6.28; Fresno--$10.48; Tri-City (Sugar Land, Stafford and Missouri City)--$5.42; and Waller--$9.93.

The question as to what is factored in to get these figures has been asked but the answer is still pending. This issue and a growing list of additional questions are being put forth in meetings with public officials, administrators and board members of the organization, and community members. Hopefully, someone will step to the plate and give clear, concise answers to these questions.

Iíve heard some area restaurant owners, aghast at the statistics, say they would gladly deliver meals to seniors for $16. And, Iíll just bet that price included gas and ďadministrativeĒ costs.

So, stay tunedómore to come.


Contact skinnerc1@tconline.net, if you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column. Write a SIGNED letter to the editor with valid day time phone number--name can be withheld by request.

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   Last Update:  August 02, 2007