Popular beach brunch does not feed Sussex seniors

Meals on Wheels, CHEER say revenues not needed locally
Baywood Greens Executive Chef Mike Clampitt, right, and assistant Antonio Cruz dish out huevos rancheros at the Oct. 6 Celebrity Chefs Beach Brunch in Dewey Beach. BY STEVEN BILLUPS
December 27, 2013

This year’s Celebrity Chefs Beach Brunch raised more than $40,000 for Meals on Wheels Delaware, but the funds will not be used by local agencies.

The 11th annual Celebrity Chefs Beach Brunch was held Oct. 6 at the Rusty Rudder in Dewey Beach.

Two rounds of competition at Battle at the Beach Celebrity Chef Throwdown were held prior to the annual brunch, raising about $5,000 total, said Meals on Wheels Celebrity Beach Brunch Chairwoman Pam McCutcheon.

Public Relations Manager Cassandra Boyce said the brunch itself, with tickets going for $75 per person, netted more than $39,000.

Sussex County’s two Meals on Wheels agencies – Lewes-Rehoboth Meals on Wheels and Sussex County CHEER centers – do not automatically receive money from Wilmington-based Meals on Wheels Delaware, which hosts the brunch every year in Dewey Beach.

Boyce said the local agencies have to request funds in order to receive them.

Boyce said the state organization provides funding to five Meals on Wheels agencies in Delaware – two in New Castle County, one in Kent County and two in Sussex County.

In an email, Boyce said the funds are not delivered equally to each agency; instead, they are based on need. “Our funding goes to the agencies once government funding runs out – we are the safety net to ensure every Delaware senior can receive a hot meal each day,” Boyce said.

She said the funds needed to ensure all Sussex County seniors receive meals far exceeds the annual $39,000 raised at the Celebrity Chefs' Beach Brunch, but Boyce declined to say how much money was needed to feed seniors in Sussex.

“How much money has been issued annually to each of the Sussex county agencies in the last three years? As much as they requested,” Boyce said in an email.

This year, both agencies in Sussex County said they requested zero funding.

Representatives from the Lewes-Rehoboth agency and the county CHEER centers said because of an increase in Title 3 state funding, they did not request funds for meals from Meals on Wheels Delaware in 2013.

Lewes-Rehoboth Director Kathy Keuski said her branch has not requested funding for meals from Meals on Wheels Delaware in three years.

Keuski said the Lewes-Rehoboth agency gets funding from the state and federal government, which comprises 45 percent of its annual budget.

She said Meals on Wheels Delaware would give the Lewes-Rehoboth chapter funding if she asked for it. “We haven’t needed it,” Keuski said.

Likewise, Sussex County CHEER centers – which deliver meals to all seniors in Sussex outside of Lewes and Rehoboth Beach – did not request funding for meals from Meals on Wheels Delaware in 2013, said Florence Mason of CHEER Delaware.  The centers requested some funding for capital equipment, Mason said, but no funding was needed for meals.

In 2012, the centers received $52,000 from Meals on Wheels Delaware, said Beckett Harmon of CHEER.  She also said Meals on Wheels Delaware donated $400 in gas cards to volunteers in December 2012.

Based on tax forms, Meals on Wheels Delaware received an average of $272,000 a year in public support, such as contributions and member dues, from 2008 to 2011.

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