Senior nutrition services are ensured to continue at the Grand Island, Doniphan, Wood River and Cairo senior centers, as well as the Hy-Vee program, with the Hall County Board of Supervisors’ vote last week to reverse a previous decision.

The board voted 4-3 in favor of giving $90,000 in the 2019-20 fiscal budget to Midland Area Agency on Aging, rather than to Hall County Senior Citizens Industries in Grand Island.

MAAA has always administered the federal/state funding for senior meals in Hall County, but the county board had voted on July 9 to give the funds directly to Senior Citizens Industries, apparently because of concerns about MAAA administration.

At last week’s board meeting, MAAA Director Casey Muzic explained that MAAA is a “pass-through” agency for state and federal funding. The money comes through and is dispersed to the county in what is called a “local match.” The federal government audits this and ensures that it is done appropriately.

Senior Citizens Industries is not a pass-through agency and giving it all the funds would lead to problems for both that agency and MAAA.

Muzic is the director of MAAA and she understands how the system works, which funding methods are most effective and what will just create extra burdens for everyone involved.

If Senior Citizens Industries received all the money, either the Doniphan, Cairo and Wood River centers wouldn’t get any funding or SCI would have to distribute money to them. MAAA would then have to oversee how SCI is handling the funding, rather than just distributing the funds itself.

Funding of the Hy-Vee voucher system was also questioned at the board meeting, but this is a good program that makes it possible for senior citizens who are able to do their own grocery shopping to enjoy a lunch at Hy-Vee while they’re out and about.

It didn’t make sense for the county board to change the senior nutrition funding distribution. This return to the status quo is good news for the county’s senior citizens, as well as MAAA and Senior Citizens Industries. But it is disturbing that even after Muzic attended the board meeting and explained the situation, the decision was still on a 4-3 vote.

Supervisor Jane Richardson noted at the meeting that no other counties that deal with MAAA are fighting the funding system.

“It is federally regulated and apparently this is a big issue. You should not fight these federal regulations,” she said.

If the county board has concerns about MAAA’s administration, it should find an appropriate way to address those concerns. Giving all the funding to SCI wasn’t the way to do it.

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