'I couldn't do it without them': Senior grocery program could shut down
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - The Roving Pantry Program will be closing after over 40 years of serving homebound seniors in Wichita unless they can raise $50,000 to continue services in 2023.
Senior Services of Wichita Executive Director Laurel Alkire told KAKE News Wednesday that there are multiple factors in the decision, including the recent impact of inflation compared to previous years.
"It's just gotten too expensive," said Alkire. "And the county funds are limited. We're glad to get what we get."
Alkire said the $50,000 needed to fund the program through the end of 2023 would pay for a number of different costs. Some of those costs include processing fees, accounting expenses, gas, vehicle maintenance and fair wages for employees who make deliveries.
One Wichita resident KAKE News spoke with Wednesday said that he had used the program for the last several years after suffering a stroke.
"I give my order on Monday," said Eric Smith. "They get [the groceries] over here on Wednesday."
Alkire told KAKE News that her staff picks up all of the groceries requested by their clients, and is even willing to unbag them and put them in the proper places inside of a home for those who need the extra help.
"They can't drive," said Alkire. "They can't walk through stores...They don't have anybody to do it for them."
Alkire said that she's all but certain a majority of clients who did not have access to the program would have to be put in nursing homes in order to get the proper care and nutrition that they need.
Smith told KAKE News he would be unable to function without the program, and that he believes it should be saved.
"It's been a godsend," said Smith. "My health's going down so, I couldn't do it without them."
If the $50,000 goal is not reached by Dec. 15, the program is set to end on Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022.
If you would like to help by donating, you can visit the Senior Services website here.