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Commentary - NSI not to blame for financial troubles

By Larry Kroeger, president, Nutrition Services, Inc., Waseca, MN

Nutrition Services, Inc. (NSI) has been blamed for the financial troubles at the Alexandria Senior Center for not reimbursing the center fairly for the meals we prepare.

Last December, the center asked us to triple our reimbursement to them each month. If we had agreed to this amount, it would have increased our payment to them by about $790 per month. It appears the center is losing about $3,400 per month. This would have still left an operating deficit of about $2,600 per month.

NSI did offer to increase our reimbursement rate by 25 percent, which was approved by the center's board of directors. NSI is not to blame for the Alexandria Senior Center's financial problems.

NSI has also been accused of trying to leave the center and prepare meals somewhere else and closing down the center. We have looked at alternative places to prepare and serve meals as a contingency plan in case the center terminates our lease or if the center closes its doors. If we wanted to leave the center, we could have done it at any time by giving a 60-day notice. We want to stay at the center because we think that is in the best interest of the seniors we serve in Alexandria.

NSI provides congregate dining and home delivered meals to seniors at 45 locations in 12 counties in Minnesota. We lease the kitchen, as a tenant, at the Alexandria Senior Center only to prepare and serve meals to about 95 seniors per day in Alexandria through the congregate dining and home delivered meal programs. We do this at many senior centers and reimburse most of them a comparable rate to that which we pay the Alexandria Senior Center.

NSI is a non-profit organization with a goal to serve meals to seniors who need our services. Our commitment to seniors in Alexandria runs deep with our local staff and volunteers. Our Alexandria food service manager, Devon, and his staff are not only committed to the seniors but also provide excellent meals and services. According to our latest survey, 98 percent of the seniors they serve in Alexandria are satisfied with the meals and services they receive.

It is our hope that the Alexandria Senior Center finds a way to stay open so we can continue to provide services to seniors there as we have since 1999.