Trumbull's Senior Citizen Commission met Friday to address a sizable agenda, one that included a potentially heated discussion about problems surrounding the Senior Center cafeteria kitchen. Fortunately, the problem was deconstructed, the conversation never got hot and an appropriate longer term resolution was reached. What to do over the immediate term remains on the Commission's agenda.
For a number of years the kitchen has served meals to those participating in the Center's activities. Suddenly, apparently, the town's Health Department found the kitchen out of compliance in two regards. First, there was no longer a person possessing required state certification working in the kitchen, as is required for those serving hot meals. Second, a full service kitchen must have commercial grade equipment – range, ovens and refrigeration units, stainless steel counters, three sinks, and the like – which this kitchen lacks.
Discussion began around getting the kitchen back into service to provide other items. A suggestion approved by the members was to serve snacks and light meals until the Health Department is satisfied. The idea was supported but no next steps were identified.
First Selectman Tim Herbst then addressed the larger issue. He recommended that before the Commission spends real money it should assess the needs of the community's seniors, and whether the existing facility, the old Nichols School on Priscilla Place, is, or can be made capable of meeting those needs, which include upgrading to comply with ADA standards, among other items.
Recently appointed Commissioner Roberta Bellows spoke for Herbst's recommendation. Commission Chair, Rachel Yahwak then called for people to serve on a Long Term Needs Committee. Six members volunteered for the assignment.
The writer suggests a broader undertaking – the First Selectman should name a community citizens committee to recommend to him what services the town should provide, as well as how, where and by whom, between today and 2025. The study should be timed so initial costs can be included in the town's 2014-15 budget.
By way of background, Trumbull's 65 and older population is 6,555 today, 18.2 percent of our residents. This cohort has grown twice as fast as the town's overall population since 2000. As people live longer, it stands to reason that the population will continue to grow significantly.