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Senior nutrition may feel fund cuts
Program is getting new sponsor to help
To sponsor a Senior Nutrition day, contact Terri Goodwin at 865-1136 or Betty Skala, 865-7277.
Sponsorship of $250 will provide meals at either the Willows or Orland site and for homebound seniors; $500 for both sites. Contributions will be noted outside the facility on the day of the sponsorship and on the daily menu. Memorial sponsorships encouraged.
Funding cuts appear imminent for the area seniors nutrition programs as a result of the across-the-board budget cuts from the sequestration of federal funds.
The probable cuts has prompted Betty Skala, retired Willows Unified School District business manger, to seek sponsors from individuals, families, businesses and service organizations to provide one day of food at the Willows and Orland senior centers and the meals-on-wheels program.
A sponsorship contribution of $250 will offset the cost of meals for seniors that are homebound or enjoy eating their meals at one of the centers, Skala said.
"The federal government is important, but it is getting to be something we can't rely on for funding," Skala said. "We have to rely more on the local community to help the local community — sort of like an old-fashioned barn raising."
Terri Goodwin, Senior Nutrition Program manager, said she has learned that Glenn County's program should see cuts between 2 percent and 12 percent within the next few months.
However, the actual reduction to the funding will not be known until the impact of the sequester is fully understood, she said.
The Glenn County Senior Nutrition Program's annual revenue is about $250,000, including federal and state grants — some of which expire next year — fundraisers and private donations.
Federal funds account for about 49 percent of the total revenue, Goodwin said.
"We just don't know how much we will be cut yet, but any cut will be devastating," Goodwin said. "I only receive money for the number of meals I'm contracted for. I'm already responsible for the additional meals we serve."
The Senior Nutrition Program receives funding for 15,100 meals served annually at the Willows and Orland nutrition centers and $15,500 meals delivered to homebound seniors.
About 15,836 meals are served at the congregate facilities and 16,467 meals are delivered to homebound seniors 250 days per year, Goodwin said.
More than $22,000 is spent on transportation costs, she said.
And the number of meals served is expected to rise as the steady increase in food prices continue to take its toll on seniors, said Skala, who planned to start a sponsorship program four years ago when she and her siblings sponsored a day's meal in honor of their mother's 91st birthday.
After her passing, they sponsored a meal in her memory in hope that others would do the same.
"Our goal would be to find 250 sponsors a year from service clubs and organizations, businesses, churches and individuals for each site," she said. "The sponsorship is less of an impact when it can be divided up."
Skala said the troubled economy has also impacted how much seniors are able to contribute toward their own meals, making the sponsorship program more needed than before.
"We use to come just once in a while," said Robert Guness, who enjoyed lunch in Orland on Monday with wife Patty. "But we've been coming almost every day the past few months. It's tough to be retired and on a fixed income, so it's nice to have a sponsored meal."
In addition to the hot meal, which is usually a senior citizen's main or only meal of the day, the nutrition centers in Willows and Orland provide excellent opportunities for socialization, relaxation and participation in a variety of programs and activities.
"We call it the two F's," Guness said. "That stands for food and fellowship."
Irene Otterson, 91, also comes to the center five days a week for the socialization and to maintain her health and independence.
"I think she likes the socialization the best," said Otterson's friend Bonnie Hawkinson, a member of the Orland Ladies of the Moose — who sponsored the meals on Monday.
Funnel Cake Express was also a recent sponsor.
"We try to help the local community whenever we can," said Lady Moose and Senior Regent Melody Kerst. "We also sponsor the annual Thanksgiving dinner with the Moose men to help the homeless or anyone who wants someplace to go on that day."
The Orland Ladies of the Moose's projects also include supporting Moose City, a retirement community for former members, and Mooseheart Child City, a residential childcare facility owned and operated by Moose International.
"Both are pretty awesome," Kerst said.
CONTACT Susan Meeker at 934-6800 or firstname.lastname@example.org.