Kitchen project on track at Tustin COA site

TUSTIN – After receiving the last bit of necessary funding , a functioning kitchen at the senior meals site in Tustin is finally on track to be up and running in September 2013.

The Osceola County Commission on Aging received a $6,143 grant from the Osceola County Community Foundation May 7 to fund the maintenance of a walk-in freezer and refrigerator, as well as re-installing the electrical box and purchasing kitchen utensils. The kitchen will prepare and cook nearly 750 meals weekly for three meal sites as well as home delivery meals for qualifying individuals over 60 years old.

“Anything the Foundation does is to help improve the quality of life in Osceola County and the senior programs certainly are important to the county,” said Larry Emig, Osceola County Community Foundation director of outreach. “The Commission on Aging does a good job and they’ve been a good asset and benefit to the county over time.”

The kitchen project has been ongoing for four years at the site located at 231 S. Neilson Street in Tustin. Using the new facility to prepare the meals will cut costs of the service by $1 per meal as well as offer the availability of new food items, said COA Director Scott Schryer.

“It will give us the ability to really plan a little deeper on the (nutritional) sides of things and we’ll be able to plan the menus to fit what the seniors like to eat,” Schryer said. “We are pretty excited about it.”

The commission currently receives meals cooked at the Kettunen Center in Tustin. The one-year service contract with the camp will expire September 30, but the service will be put up for bids again in June for the last one-year contract.

Three cooks will be hired to run the kitchen, which could possibly be rented out to other individuals and organizations for parties and dinners, Schryer said.

Though the grant covered the finishing costs for the kitchen, the COA may see an additional cost of around $5,000 to replace the well on the site, which was installed 32 years ago. During a recent visit from the health department, Schryer was informed that the existing 2-inch well may need to be upgraded to a 5-inch well in order to handle the increased water usage that will come from operating a kitchen.

“(The health department said) the amount of water we’ll use might be too much for the well,” Schryer said.

Fundraisers are being planned to raise additional dollars for the COA, including a Memorial Day barbecue at the Tustin meal site.

Schryer said the kitchen also could turn out meals for other entities such as the county jail in the future.