CommUnify’s Senior Nutrition Program is in peril, organization says

CommUnify, previously often known as the Community Action Commission of Santa Barbara County, can be discontinuing its Senior Nutrition Program after practically 50 years of serving Santa Barbara County—until the group can safe extra funding.

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  • FOOD FOR SENIORS CommUnify’s longstanding Senior Nutrition Program, which delivers nutritious meals to native seniors, is not financially sustainable, until the group can discover funding.

During public remark on the May 18 Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors assembly, CommUnify CEO Patricia Keelean mentioned that this system is not financially sustainable after a yr of record-breaking want.

“During the pandemic, demand for meals has greater than doubled,” she mentioned. “In April alone, we offered greater than 17,000 meals to over 720 seniors.”

But the monetary challenges started lengthy earlier than the pandemic began. Over the previous 10 years, this system has operated at a deficit, Keelean mentioned, and the expense of offering providers has solely elevated because the minimal wage, transportation prices, and meals costs have all gone up.

“For that cause, CommUnify’s board of administrators voted unanimously on May 5 to discontinue the Senior Nutrition Program, efficient June 30,” Keelean advised the board. “This is a really painful determination after 47 years of devoted service to the seniors of Santa Barbara County.”

The solely approach this system might proceed to function in the long run, Keelean mentioned, is with a safe, annual funding supply. She made a plea to the Board of Supervisors to contemplate offering that cash from the county stage.

“In order to proceed offering nutritious meals to seniors at this time, we will need to have a dedication for a further $600,000 to $700,000 in everlasting funding on an annual foundation,” Keelean mentioned. “Even at this quantity, CommUnify will nonetheless be committing to fundraise roughly half 1,000,000 {dollars} yearly to interrupt even.”

The Board of Supervisors allotted $77,000 to CommUnify earlier this yr, which Keelean mentioned allowed the group to serve a further 114 seniors in February and March. But it’s not sufficient to maintain the decades-old program for much longer.

Keelean advised New Times that merely being funded for one further yr could be useful if an annual line merchandise within the funds isn’t doable for the county.

“I might hope that at a minimal, that there may very well be some hole funding that may permit us to proceed to offer the providers by way of June 30 of subsequent yr,” she mentioned. “In between, we might start a group dialog across the situation of meals insecurity for our seniors.”

Keelean mentioned {that a} resolution to the problem requires extra than simply native assist.

“On a nationwide stage, the Older Americans Act isn’t adequately funded to assist meal providers or different providers for our seniors,” she mentioned. “I believe there must be a multi-level advocacy effort to teach Congress in regards to the rising wants amongst our senior inhabitants.”

Locally, Keelean asks that group members attain out to the Board of Supervisors to advocate for funding allocations for the Senior Nutrition Program. As of May 19, Keelean mentioned she hadn’t heard from any board members about her plea for funding.

“When these funds for added meals go away, then what’s going to occur is that whoever is the supplier for this program, whether or not it’s us or one other group, are going to should make very tough selections about who’s going to obtain meals and who isn’t,” she mentioned. “It’s crucial that we begin to come collectively as a group and have a dialog in regards to the wants of seniors.” Δ

—Malea Martin

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