US Senator Claire McCaskill has informed the Northwest Missouri Area Agency on Aging (NWMOAAA) that greater transparency is needed in the awarding of nutrition service contracts.

McCaskill was approached in October 2017 by Nodaway County Senior Center Administrator Amie Firavich about the senior center not being awarded a contract to provide nutritious, hot home-delivered and group meals to seniors for the 2018 fiscal year.

In early January, McCaskill said, “It’s clear to me after digging into this extensively that both sides failed to communicate with each other, on both changing expectations and new policies, which ultimately led to funding changes for the senior center.

“This was a fundamental and frustrating lack of communication that I’d encourage both agencies to avoid with a more open dialogue going forward, particularly given their policies have a direct impact on Nodaway’s senior community.”

NWMOAAA responded to McCaskill’s inquiries with a fact sheet on the bid process and decision to not award contracts to, not only Nodaway County Senior Center, but one in St. Joseph and the Cameron nutrition site.

McCaskill expressed concern that NWMOAAA did not address how the bid process would be handled in the future.

“In the interest of transparency and improved communication,” McCaskill said, “I respectfully request that upon making a decision regarding the FY2019 nutrition contracts, that the Northwest Missouri Area Agency on Aging inform all FY2018 applicants whether or not they will be eligible for awards for the next bidding cycle, and if a FY2018 applicant is ineligible for awards … provide the applicant with the rationale and an opportunity to take any remedial actions necessary to compete for a bid.”

As part of the fact sheet supplied to McCaskill’s office, the NWMOAAA stated that funds for Nodaway County meals were awarded to the Maitland Nutrition site in Maitland, Tri-City Friendship Center, for citizens in the southwest portion of the county. A third party source informed the Nodaway News Leader that those funds have traditionally been awarded to the Maitland facility and that no extra funds were received when the Nodaway County entity was denied funding for this fiscal year.