Pasco cuts ribbon on kitchen to feed seniors

Nutritious meals that are served to Pasco County seniors will now be made locally.

The meals previously were prepared in St. Petersburg and then trucked over to Pasco County.

Now, the food preparation will be done in a new commercial kitchen at the Land O’ Lakes Senior Center.

Pasco County Commission Chairman Mike Wells Jr., center, holding scissors, helped cut the ribbon on the new commercial kitchen at the Land O’ Lakes Senior Center. (Courtesy of Pasco County)

Pasco County officials cut the ribbon on the new kitchen, at 6801 Wisteria Loop in Land O’ Lakes, on March 26.

About 1,000 meals a day will be produced on-site from the refurbished kitchen.

Some seniors will eat at that center, and some will be served at the other senior centers in Pasco. But, the majority of the meals will be delivered to homebound seniors.

A contract with St. Petersburg-based GA Foods calls for up to 1,600 meals a day to be prepared at the senior center’s kitchen. Pasco County commissioners approved the contract in September 2017.

State funds of about $250,000 paid for the project.

The upgrade in meal preparation and delivery is a public-private partnership with GA Foods, Pasco County’s Elderly Nutrition Division, Pasco County Schools, and area businesses.

The state-of-the-art commercial equipment is from in-kind donations from the school district, and businesses, including Welbilt.

“It’s a great collaborative effort,” said Pasco County Commission Chairman Mike Wells Jr. “The goal is that no senior has to wait for service. That’s the goal for me.”

Wells cut the ribbon along with other county and school officials, and county commissioners.

With meals prepared locally, Pasco anticipates an annual cost savings of more than $120,000, and a decrease in the home-delivered waiting list.

Data has shown that one in six seniors in Pasco are food-insecure.

“The Land O’ Lakes kitchen project is an initiative that we’ve strived for several years to realize,” Gabriel Papadopoulos, Pasco’s community services director, said in a news release on the event.

Feeding Pasco’s Elderly is a nonprofit organization that supports funding to Pasco County’s Senior Services Division. The agency helped secure the state funds for the grant.

Gov. Rick Scott previously vetoed the funds in 2015, but the renewed request made it into the fiscal year 2017 state budget.

Published April 4, 2018

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